Climate

Lake Baikal Climate History
February 17, 2011 01:49 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Lake Baikal is the largest freshwater lake in the world, with an average depth of over 5000 feet down and is 25 million years old so is therefore not only the deepest lake but oldest. Lake Baikal contains roughly 20% of the world's surface fresh water that is unfrozen and is located in the south of the Russian region of Siberia near the city of Irkutsk). has provided scientists with insight into the ways that climate change affects water temperature, which in turn affects life in the lake. The study is published in the journal PLoS ONE today. The research team discovered many climate variability signals, called teleconnections, in the data. For example, changes in Lake Baikal water temperature correlate with monthly variability in El Niño indices, reflecting sea surface temperatures over the Pacific Ocean tens of thousands of kilometers away. At the same time, Lake Baikal's temperatures are influenced by strong interactions with Pacific Ocean pressure fields described by the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.

Sulfur Emissions on the Rise
February 15, 2011 04:56 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Sulfur dioxide is a major air pollutant and has significant impacts upon human health. In addition the concentration of sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere can influence ecosytems. Sulfur dioxide emissions are a precursor to acid rain and atmospheric particulates. A new analysis of sulfur emissions appearing in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics shows that after declining for a decade, worldwide emissions rose again in 2000 due largely to international shipping and a growing Chinese economy. An accurate read on sulfur emissions will help researchers predict future changes in climate and determine present day effects on the atmosphere, health and the environment.

Arizona Haze and NOx
February 14, 2011 12:19 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Four Corners Power Plant is one of the largest coal-fired generating stations in the United States. The plant is located on Navajo land in Fruitland, New Mexico, about 25 miles west of Farmington. It is located to the west of the Grand Canyon and many other national parks. It was the first mine-mouth generation station to take advantage of the large deposits of sub-bituminous coal in the Four Corners region. The plant’s five units currently generate 2,040 megawatts. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a supplemental proposal to reduce emissions from the Four Corners Power Plant. The new proposal will reduce nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions from approximately 45,000 tons per year to 5,800 tons per year, 3,200 tons less than EPA’s initial proposal. The proposal will also work to protect public health in the area by ensuring residents have cleaner air with fewer harmful pollutants. It will also reduce atmospheric haze and promote viability.

Earth Warming Unevenly: Tropical Atlantic Sees Weaker Trade Winds and More Rainfall
February 14, 2011 07:05 AM - ScienceDaily

Earth's global temperature has been rising gradually over the last decades, but the warming has not been the same everywhere. Scientists are therefore trying to pin down how the warming has affected regional climates because that is what really matters to people, and to adaptation and mitigation strategies. Their efforts, however, had hit a roadblock because the necessary observations of the winds over the oceans were biased. Developing a new method to remove the bias, Hiroki Tokinaga and Shang-Ping Xie at the International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa, found that their corrected observations show the trade winds in the tropical Atlantic have weakened and the pattern of ocean surface temperature has changed. As a result, the equatorial Amazon and the Guinea Coast are seeing more rainfall and the Sahel less. The findings are published online in the February 6, 2011, issue of Nature Geoscience.

Climate change keenly felt in Alaska's national parks
February 13, 2011 09:10 AM - Yereth Rosen, Reuters, ANCHORAGE, Alaska

Thawing permafrost is triggering mudslides onto a key road traveled by busloads of sightseers. Tall bushes newly sprouted on the tundra are blocking panoramic views. And glaciers are receding from convenient viewing areas, while their rapid summer melt poses new flood risks. These are just a few of the ways that a rapidly warming climate is reshaping Denali, Kenai Fjords and other national parks comprising the crown jewels of Alaska's heritage as America's last frontier. These and some better-known impacts -- proliferation of invasive plants and fish, greater frequency and intensity of wildfires, and declines in wildlife populations that depend on sea ice and glaciers -- are outlined in a recent National Park Service report.

Space Weather
February 10, 2011 08:17 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Space weather is the concept of changing environmental conditions in near-Earth space. It is distinct from the concept of weather within a planetary atmosphere, and deals with phenomena involving ambient plasma, magnetic fields, radiation and other matter in space. "Space weather" often implicitly means the conditions in near-Earth space within the magnetosphere and ionosphere, but it is also studied in interplanetary (and occasionally interstellar) space. The primary source of these changes is what happens on the Sun. Changes in the near-Earth space environment affect our society. The best known ground-level consequence of space weather is geomagnetically induced currents, or GIC. These are damaging electrical currents that can flow in power grids, pipelines and other conducting networks and cause disruptions and black outs. Eight years ago, the American Meteorological Society tentatively reached out to the space weather community by scheduling a day-and-a-half Space Weather Symposium at its Annual Meeting. That symposium included briefings from operational and research agencies involved with space weather as well as a variety of talks targeting areas of interest common to meteorology and space weather.

Past Antarctic cooling may help global warming study
February 10, 2011 06:42 AM - Alister Doyle, Reuters Environment Correspondent, OSLO

Sea temperatures off the Antarctic Peninsula have cooled over the past 12,000 years, according to a study on Wednesday that may help scientists understand the impact of modern global warming on the frozen continent. Scientists want to learn more about Antarctica because even a thaw of the fringes could raise sea levels and swamp low-lying coasts. The continent, discovered only in 1820, contains enough ice to raise world sea levels by 57 meters (187 ft). "In Antarctic science we have been missing good records of sea surface temperatures near the ice sheet," lead author Amelia Shevenell of University College London and the University of Washington, Seattle, told Reuters. "We are starting to fill in the gaps," she said of the study in the journal Nature.

Time to Get to Know!
February 9, 2011 10:24 PM - Editor, ENN and Get to Know

The 2011 Canadian Wildlife Federation Robert Bateman Get to Know Contest begins April 10. Renowned wildlife artist Robert Bateman invites youth aged 5-18 to go outside and "get to know" their wild neighbors by creating art, writing, digital photography, and video entries. The goal: to engage the power of art to help youth become more connected with nature. Last year, twenty two winners of the Robert Bateman Get to Know Contest attended the Get to Know Art & Nature Camp at the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park on August 23-27. Hosted by Parks Canada, the kids took part in workshops (led by local artists from Alberta and Montana), discovered local species and ecosystems, and worked on a video project encouraging young people across North America to enter the new video category of the Get to Know Contest.

Thunder Snow!
February 8, 2011 04:10 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Thundersnow, also known as a winter thunderstorm or a thunder snowstorm, is a relatively rare kind of thunderstorm with snow falling as the primary precipitation instead of rain. It typically falls in regions of strong upward motion within the cold sector of an extratropical cyclone, where the precipitation consists of ice pellets rather than snow. Snowstorms that trigger lightning are rare. Of the roughly 10,000,000 cloud-to-ground lightning flashes observed over the continental United States each year, about 0.1 percent to 0.01 percent are associated with snow, says Walter Petersen, atmospheric physicist with NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. This thundersnow happened this winter in northern Alabama and was observed first hand by sophisticated lightning mapping station in Huntsville

The Dunes of Mars
February 7, 2011 12:41 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

A dune is a hill of sand built by the wind. Dunes occur in different forms and sizes. Most kinds of dunes are longer on the windward side where the sand is pushed up the dune and have a shorter slip face in the lee of the wind. Dunes can be found in any environment where there is a substantial atmosphere, winds, and dust to be blown. Dunes are common on Mars, and they have also been observed in the equatorial regions of Titan. Sand dunes in a vast area of northern Mars long thought to be frozen in time are changing with both sudden and gradual motions, according to research using images from a NASA orbiter. These dune fields cover an area the size of Texas in a band around the planet at the edge of Mars' north polar cap. The new findings suggest they are among the most active landscapes on Mars. However, few changes in these dark-toned dunes had been previously detected before a campaign of repeated imaging by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

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