Climate

Cloudy feedback on global warming
October 31, 2016 04:50 PM - Anne M Stark via Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers have identified a mechanism that causes low clouds -- and their influence on Earth's energy balance -- to respond differently to global warming, depending on their spatial pattern and location.

The results imply that studies relying solely on recent observed trends underestimated how much Earth will warm due to increased carbon dioxide. The research appears in the Oct. 31 edition of the journal, Nature Geosciences

West Coast record low snowpack in 2015 influenced by high temperatures
October 31, 2016 01:18 PM - Oregon State University

The western-most region of the continental United States set records for low snowpack levels in 2015 and scientists, through a new study, point the finger at high temperatures, not the low precipitation characteristic of past “snow drought” years.

The study suggests greenhouse gases were a major contributor to the high temperatures, which doesn’t bode well for the future, according to authors of a new study published today in the journal Geophysical Research Letters

Species speed up adaptation to beat effects of warmer oceans
October 31, 2016 09:19 AM - University of East Anglia

Such changes mean species threatened by climate change may find ways to adapt far quicker than through changes in DNA, which come with evolution.

Researchers studied the Winter Skate (Leucoraja ocellata), in waters that are around 7000 years old and significantly warmer than those where the rest of the species range is found. They observed many physical and functional adaptations which allow the species to cope with the significantly different set of environmental conditions observed in this shallow, warm habitat.

Colorado River's dead clams tell tales of carbon emission
October 28, 2016 04:09 PM - Blaine Friedlander via Cornell University

Scientists have begun to account for the topsy-turvy carbon cycle of the Colorado River delta – once a massive green estuary of grassland, marshes and cottonwood, now desiccated dead land.

“We’ve done a lot in the United States to alter water systems, to dam them. The river irrigates our crops and makes energy. What we really don’t understand is how our poor water management is affecting other natural systems – in this case, carbon cycling,” said Cornell’s Jansen Smith, a doctoral candidate in earth and atmospheric sciences.

See How Arctic Sea Ice Is Losing Its Bulwark Against Warming Summers
October 28, 2016 03:33 PM -

Arctic sea ice, the vast sheath of frozen seawater floating on the Arctic Ocean and its neighboring seas, has been hit with a double whammy over the past decades: as its extent shrunk, the oldest and thickest ice has either thinned or melted away, leaving the sea ice cap more vulnerable to the warming ocean and atmosphere.

“What we’ve seen over the years is that the older ice is disappearing,” said Walt Meier, a sea ice researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “This older, thicker ice is like the bulwark of sea ice: a warm summer will melt all the young, thin ice away but it can’t completely get rid of the older ice. But this older ice is becoming weaker because there’s less of it and the remaining old ice is more broken up and thinner, so that bulwark is not as good as it used to be.”

Super Emitters - are responsible for more than half of U.S. methane emissions
October 28, 2016 02:48 PM - Ker Than via Stanford School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences

The bulk of methane emissions in the United States can be traced to a small number of “super emitting” natural gas wells, according to a new study.

“We’re finding that when it comes to natural gas leaks, a 50/5 rule applies: That is, the largest 5 percent of leaks are typically responsible for more than 50 percent of the total volume of leakage,” said study co-author Adam Brandt, an assistant professor of energy resources engineering at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences.

The findings, published online in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, could lead to more efficient strategies for sampling emissions and fixing the most significant leaks, said Brandt, who is also a senior fellow at Stanford’s Precourt Institute for Energy. By focusing on finding and fixing the biggest emitters, companies can significantly reduce the amount of methane leaking into the atmosphere.

Molecular signature shows plants are adapting to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide
October 26, 2016 09:53 AM - University of Southampton

Plants are adapting to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide according to a new study from the University of Southampton

The research, published in the journal Global Change Biology, provides insight into the long-term impacts of rising CO2 and the implications for global food security and nature conservation.

Lead author Professor Gail Taylor, from Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton, said: “Atmospheric CO2 is rising – emissions grew faster in the 2000s than the 1990s and the concentration of CO2 reached 400 ppm for the first time in recorded history in 2013.

UCI and NASA document accelerated glacier melting in West Antarctica
October 25, 2016 02:12 PM - University of California - Irvine

Two new studies by researchers at the University of California, Irvine and NASA have found the fastest ongoing rates of glacier retreat ever observed in West Antarctica and offer an unprecedented look at ice melting on the floating undersides of glaciers. The results highlight how the interaction between ocean conditions and the bedrock beneath a glacier can influence the frozen mass, helping scientists better predict future Antarctica ice loss and global sea level rise.

The studies examined three neighboring glaciers that are melting and retreating at different rates. The Smith, Pope and Kohler glaciers flow into the Dotson and Crosson ice shelves in the Amundsen Sea embayment in West Antarctica, the part of the continent with the largest decline in ice.

The Methane Riddle: What Is Causing the Rise in Emissions?
October 25, 2016 09:34 AM - Yale Environment 360

The stomachs of cattle, fermentation in rice fields, fracking for natural gas, coal mines, festering bogs, burning forests — they all produce methane, the second most important greenhouse gas, after carbon dioxide. But how much? And how can we best cut these emissions? And is fracking frying the planet, or are bovine emissions more to blame? 

Globally Averaged CO2 Levels Reach 400 parts per million in 2015
October 25, 2016 07:11 AM - World Meteorological Organization

Globally averaged concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached the symbolic and significant milestone of 400 parts per million for the first time in 2015 and surged again to new records in 2016 on the back of the very powerful El Niño event, according to the World Meteorological Organization's annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.

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