Environmental Policy

East Greenland ice sheet has responded to climate change for the last 7.5 million years
December 8, 2016 09:42 AM - Anne M Stark via DOE / Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Using marine sediment cores containing isotopes of aluminum and beryllium, a group of international researchers has discovered that East Greenland experienced deep, ongoing glacial erosion over the past 7.5 million years.

The research reconstructs ice sheet erosion dynamics in that region during the past 7.5 million years and has potential implications for how much the ice sheet will respond to future interglacial warming.

The team, made up of researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, University of Vermont, Boston College and Imperial College London, analyzed sediments eroded from the continent and deposited in the ocean off the coast, which are like a time capsule preserving records of glacial processes. The research appears in the Dec. 8 edition of the journal, Nature.

When Permafrost Melts, What Happens to All That Stored Carbon?
December 6, 2016 08:55 AM - Stacy Morford via The Earth Institute at Columbia University

The Arctic’s frozen ground contains large stores of organic carbon that have been locked in the permafrost for thousands of years. As global temperatures rise, that permafrost is starting to melt, raising concerns about the impact on the climate as organic carbon becomes exposed. A new study is shedding light on what that could mean for the future by providing the first direct physical evidence of a massive release of carbon from permafrost during a warming spike at the end of the last ice age.

The study, published this week in the journal Nature Communications, documents how Siberian soil once locked in permafrost was carried into the Arctic Ocean during that period at a rate about seven times higher than today.

The Paris Climate Deal Is Now in Force. What Comes Next?
December 4, 2016 09:07 PM - Steve Williams, Care2

The Paris Agreement was hailed as a turning point for world governments tackling climate change, and it has now come into effect. What does this mean for the world — and where do we go from here?

On Friday, November 4, the Paris Agreement went into effect, meaning that the agreement made last year by nearly 200 international delegates must now be honored. To recognize the consensus coming into force, the United Nations stated that it is a moment to celebrate – and to take concerted action.

“We remain in a race against time,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon emphasized. ”Now is the time to strengthen global resolve, do what science demands and seize the opportunity to build a safer, more sustainable world for all.”

To Fight Air Pollution, Four Cities Announce Ban on Diesel Cars By 2025
December 2, 2016 04:15 PM - Yale Environment 360

Four of the world’s largest cities announced Friday that they will ban diesel cars by 2025 in an effort to cut air pollution. Leaders from Paris, Madrid, Athens, and Mexico City made the declaration at the C40 Mayors Summit, a biennial meeting of civic leaders concerned about climate change. 

Climate Change Will Drive Stronger, Smaller Storms in U.S.
December 2, 2016 11:22 AM - Rob Mitchum via Computation Institute

The effects of climate change will likely cause smaller but stronger storms in the United States, according to a new framework for modeling storm behavior developed at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory. Though storm intensity is expected to increase over today’s levels, the predicted reduction in storm size may alleviate some fears of widespread severe flooding in the future.

The new approach, published today in Journal of Climate, uses new statistical methods to identify and track storm features in both observational weather data and new high-resolution climate modeling simulations. When applied to one simulation of the future effects of elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide, the framework helped clarify a common discrepancy in model forecasts of precipitation changes.

West Antarctic ice shelf breaking up from the inside out
November 28, 2016 11:07 AM - Pam Frost Gorder via Ohio State University

A key glacier in Antarctica is breaking apart from the inside out, suggesting that the ocean is weakening ice on the edges of the continent.

The Pine Island Glacier, part of the ice shelf that bounds the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, is one of two glaciers that researchers believe are most likely to undergo rapid retreat, bringing more ice from the interior of the ice sheet to the ocean, where its melting would flood coastlines around the world.

A nearly 225-square-mile iceberg broke off from the glacier in 2015, but it wasn’t until Ohio State University researchers were testing some new image-processing software that they noticed something strange in satellite images taken before the event.

102 Million Trees Have Died in California's Drought
November 25, 2016 02:42 PM - EcoWatch via , Care2

California’s six years of drought has left 102 million dead trees across 7.7 million acres of forest in its wake, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) announced following an aerial survey. If that is not horrendous enough, 62 million trees died in the year 2016 alone—an increase of more than 100 percent compared to 2015.

“The scale of die-off in California is unprecedented in our modern history,” Randy Moore, a forester for the U.S. Forest Service, told the Los Angeles Times, adding that trees are dying “at a rate much quicker than we thought.”

Study Shows Climate Affecting Avian Breeding Habits
November 25, 2016 12:05 PM - Kathleen Tuck via Boise State University

Milder winters have led to earlier growing seasons and noticeable effects on the breeding habits of some predatory birds, according to research by Boise State biologists Shawn Smith and Julie Heath, in collaboration with Karen Steenhof, and The Peregrine Fund’s Christopher McClure. Their work was recently published in the Journal of Animal Ecology under the title “Earlier nesting by generalist predatory bird is associated with human responses to climate change.”

Future PM2.5 air pollution over China
November 23, 2016 09:18 AM - Hong Liao via Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences

With rapid industrialization and urbanization over the past decades, China has experienced widespread air pollution induced by fine particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 µm or less (PM2.5). To protect human health and meet the newly implemented annual PM2.5 target (less than 35 µg m-3), great efforts are needed to reduce emissions effectively. It is, therefore, essential to understand how future PM2.5 concentrations are affected by changes in anthropogenic emissions. 

U.S. record high temps could outpace record lows by 15 to 1 before century's end
November 21, 2016 04:14 PM - National Center for Atmospheric Research / University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

If society continues to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at the current rate, Americans later this century will have to endure, on average, about 15 daily maximum temperature records for every time that the mercury notches a record low, new research indicates.

That ratio of record highs to record lows could also turn out to be much higher if the pace of emissions increases and produces even more warming, according to the study led by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

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