• Understanding changes in extreme precipitation

    Most climate scientists agree that heavy rainfall will become even more extreme and frequent in a warmer climate. This is because warm air can hold more moisture than cold air, resulting in heavier rainfall.

    However, the involved mechanisms are complex and the increase in extreme precipitation varies in space, as noted by Stephan Pfahl, climate scientist at ETH Zurich and lead author of a paper just published in the journal Nature Climate Change: “The level of atmospheric moisture is just one factor influencing the distribution and intensity of extreme precipitation. Other factors also play a key role – especially when it comes to regional variability.”

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  • Research finds spike in dust storms in American Southwest driven by ocean changes

    People living in the American Southwest have experienced a dramatic increase in windblown dust storms in the last two decades, likely driven by large-scale changes in sea surface temperature in the Pacific Ocean drying the region’s soil, according to new NOAA-led research.

    With the increase in dust storms, scientists have also documented a spike in Valley fever, an infectious disease caught by inhaling a soil-dwelling fungus found primarily in the Southwest.

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  • In Measuring Gas Exchange Between Water and Air, Size Matters

    Ponds and lakes play a significant role in the global carbon cycle, and are often net emitters of carbon gases to the atmosphere.  However, the rate at which gases move across the air-water boundary is not well quantified, particularly for small ponds.

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  • UN agricultural agency links food security and climate change in new guidelines

    The United Nations agricultural agency today unveiled guidelines to help Governments balance the needs of farming and climate change when making decisions, such as whether to refill a dried up lake or focus instead on sustainably using the forest on its shore.

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  • Different places warm at different paces

    One of the robust features of global warming under increasing greenhouse gas concentrations is that different places warm at different paces.

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  • Migratory Seabird Deaths Linked to Hurricanes

    Stronger and more frequent hurricanes may pose a new threat to the sooty tern, an iconic species of migratory seabird found throughout the Caribbean and Mid-Atlantic, a new Duke University-led study reveals.

    The study, published this week in the peer-reviewed open-access journal PeerJ, is the first to map the birds’ annual migratory path and demonstrate how its timing and trajectory place them in the direct path of hurricanes moving into the Caribbean after forming over the Atlantic.

    “The route the birds take and that most Atlantic-forming hurricanes take is basically the same – only in reverse,” said Ryan Huang, a doctoral student at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, who led the study. “That means these birds, who are usually very tired from traveling long distances over water without rest, are flying head-on into some of the strongest winds on the planet.”

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  • Biological Activity Found to Affect Aerosols Produced from Sea Spray

    Chemists have discovered that tiny particulate matter called aerosols lofted into the atmosphere by sea spray and the bursting of bubbles at the ocean’s surface are chemically altered by the presence of biological activity.

    Their finding, published in this week’s issue of the journal Chem, is a critical discovery that should improve the accuracy of future atmospheric and climate models.

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  • Some Dryland Forests Have Been Hiding in Plain Sight

    A new estimate of the extent of dryland forests suggests that the global forest cover is at least 9% higher than previously thought. The study , published in the May 12 issue of Science, will help reduce uncertainties surrounding how much carbon dioxide plants absorb from the atmosphere globally. As carbon dioxide is a key driver of climate change, the study's results are important for climate modeling.

    Given the vastness of land across the globe, researchers rely on satellite data to estimate the amount of forest cover. Yet dryland biomes — as their name suggests — are arid ecosystems where precipitation is outweighed by evaporation, making them particularly difficult places to spot and measure forests via satellite.

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  • Shelf sediments reveal climate shifts through the eons

    Climate change around Antarctica can severely affect Australia’s rainfall and even influence the distribution of wet and dry zones across southeast Asia, an international study has revealed.

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  • Teleconnection between the tropical Pacific and Antarctica

    In April 2016, a large-scale breakup of land-fast ice was observed in Lutzow-Holm Bay near Syowa Station, a Japanese research facility. It was the first comparably large calving in the region since 1998. Land-fast ice is sea ice that grows along the Antarctic coast and does not move much once formed. Syowa Station is normally surrounded by land-fast ice, which makes it very difficult for even an icebreaker to reach.

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