• The role of oceanic plankton in cloud formation

    Nobody knows what our skies looked like before fossil fuel burning began; today, about half the cloud droplets in Northern Hemisphere skies formed around particles of pollution. Cloudy skies help regulate our planet’s climate and yet the answers to many fundamental questions about cloud formation remain hazy.

    Satellites use chlorophyll’s green color to detect biological activity in the oceans. The lighter-green swirls are a massive December 2010 plankton bloom following ocean currents off Patagonia, at the southern tip of South America.NASA

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  • How clouds get their brightness

    How clouds form and how they help set the temperature of the earth are two of the big remaining questions in climate research. Now, a study of clouds over the world's remotest ocean shows that ocean life is responsible for up to half the cloud droplets that pop in and out of existence during summer.

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  • Oceans slowed global temperature rise

    A new study of ocean temperature measurements shows that in recent years, extra heat from greenhouse gases has been trapped in the subsurface waters of the Pacific and Indian oceans, thus accounting for the slowdown in the global surface temperature increase observed during the past decade, researchers say.

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  • As species adapt to a warming climate, ecosystems change

    If it seems like you're pulling more bass than trout out of Ontario's lakes this summer, you probably are.

    Blame it on the ripple effect of climate change and warming temperatures. Birds migrate earlier, flowers bloom faster, and fish move to newly warmed waters putting local species at risk.

    To mitigate the trend and support conservation efforts, scientists at the University of Toronto (U of T) are sharing a way to predict which plants or animals may be vulnerable to the arrival of a new species.

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  • Greenland ice sheet melting more rapidly from impact of rainfall

    According to a new study published in Nature Geoscience, the Greenland ice sheet has been shown to accelerate in response to surface rainfall and melt associated with late-summer and autumnal cyclonic weather events.

    Samuel Doyle and an international team of colleagues led from Aberystwyth University's Centre for Glaciology combined records of ice motion, water pressure at the ice sheet bed, and river discharge with surface meteorology across the western margin of the Greenland ice sheet and captured the wide-scale effects of an unusual week of warm, wet weather in late August and early September, 2011.

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  • How Climate Change will Affect Air Travel

    Global air travel contributes around 3.5 percent of the greenhouse forcing driving anthropogenic climate change, according to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). But what impact does a warming planet have on air travel and how might that, in turn, affect the rate of warming itself? A new study by researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and University of Wisconsin Madison found a connection between climate and airline flight times, suggesting a feedback loop could exist between the carbon emissions of airplanes and our changing climate. The study was published today in Nature Climate Change.

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  • Wildfires ravage Canada and Alaska causing mass evacuations

    "Extreme." "Unprecedented." "Historic." Those are just a few of the words being used to describe the start of this year's fire season in North America. The wildfires are centered in the northwest of the continent, but their consequences are far-reaching. Thick smoke has blanketed parts of Wisconsin and North Dakota. It's triggered air alerts in Minnesota and Montana and muddied skies as far south as Tennessee and Colorado.

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  • Another reason the West Antarctic ice sheet is melting

    The amount of heat flowing toward the base of the West Antarctic ice sheet from geothermal sources deep within Earth is surprisingly high, according to a new study led by UC Santa Cruz researchers. The results, published July 10 in Science Advances, provide important data for researchers trying to predict the fate of the ice sheet, which has experienced rapid melting over the past decade.

    Lead author Andrew Fisher, professor of Earth and planetary sciences at UC Santa Cruz, emphasized that the geothermal heating reported in this study does not explain the alarming loss of ice from West Antarctica that has been documented by other researchers. "The ice sheet developed and evolved with the geothermal heat flux coming up from below--it's part of the system. But this could help explain why the ice sheet is so unstable. When you add the effects of global warming, things can start to change quickly," he said.

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  • California towns getting water by truck as drought continues and wells run dry

    Rural Tulare County, Calif., is now being called the epicenter of this drought.

    That's because at least 1,300 residential wells have run dry, affecting at least 7,000 people. When your taps start spitting out air here, Paul Boyer and his team are who you call.

    Under a punishing midafternoon sun, Boyer helps muscle down five of these hefty 400-pound water tanks from a semi-truck flatbed. He helps run a local nonprofit that's in charge of distributing these 2,500-gallon water tanks to drought victims.

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  • Bumblebees trapped in "Climate Vice"

    As Europe and North America warm, bumblebees should be able to fly north to cooler climes, writes Tim Radford. But they're not: the bees' range is receding in the south, but staying put in the north, and scientists fear their shrinking habitat will put many species at risk of extinction.

    The humble bumblebee is feeling the squeeze from climate change.

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