The Hot Zone

Climate does cause earthquakes, but at speed of geologic time

What does the earthquake in Japan have to do with climate change? Nothing, is the easiest response. Yet I’ve been hearing such leaps of association, tossed off like some conspiracy of nature against the human race. But just when you get comfortable with your own answers to life’s questions, out of nowhere hurls some sticky complication. An article published recently in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters backs up the idea that earthquakes and climate change are interrelated. I’ve... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on April 18, 2011 No Comments »
Category : The Oceans

Stronger winds, bigger waves could be result of warmer ocean

Surfers, kiteboarders, and other ocean joy-riders might be pleased with this latest bit of news. Wind speeds and wave heights have been increasing over the past quarter century, a result possibly linked to warmer waters caused by climate change. A study published last week in the journal Science states that wind speeds over the majority of the world’s oceans have increased by at least 0.25 percent to 0.5 percent per year, a cumulative increase of 5 to 10 percent over the last 20 years. That’s... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on March 29, 2011 No Comments »
Category : The Oceans

Arctic waters warmest in 2,000 years

On the heels of a study showing that Arctic ice is highly susceptible to warm water fluxes from the Atlantic Ocean, comes a new one estimating that Arctic waters are the warmest they’ve been in 2,000 years. The interesting thing about this study, published in the journal Science this week, is that it looked at the history of tiny amoeboid protists called planktic foraminifers to tell the story. The remains of these creatures in sediment cores on the western edge of Svalbard, in Norway, were... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on January 31, 2011 No Comments »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists, The Oceans

Seabed may be too turbulent to store carbon

The ocean floor has been eyed as a potential site to sequester carbon, the idea being that we can get CO2 far, far away from human activity by banishing it to the earthly equivalent of the Final Frontier. But if you get CO2 out of the way of humans, it may instead be smack dab in the middle of natural forces. In an editorial published this week in the journal Nature Geoscience, the fallibility of burying carbon below the sea bed is explored. The chief point of concern is that the ocean bed is actually... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on January 20, 2011 No Comments »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists, The Oceans

Nitrous oxide from streams contributing to climate change at three times rate previous expected

Carbon dioxide is bad for global warming, but nitrous oxide (N2O) may be one of the worst chemical compounds you can pump up into the air. Not only does it have 300 times the potency of CO2, but it also destroys stratospheric ozone (the good kind) — a double whammy on the atmosphere. That’s why it’s unnerving to read a new study out of the Biological Sciences department of the University of Notre Dame that found N2O emissions coming from streams and rivers at three times the rate... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on December 20, 2010 No Comments »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists, The Oceans

Oceans away

One of the most disturbing aspects of climate change is the impact on the oceans, which are a tremendous source of nutrients for life on land. Acidification, ice melt, and surface temperature increases are impacting sea life in a myriad of ways. How much can the ecosystems take? An editorial in the September 2010 edition of the  journal Nature Geoscience points out that the oceans may be floundering at their most basic level of the food chain: phytoplankton. The microscopic, photosynthesizing... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on September 7, 2010 No Comments »
Category : The Oceans

Not finding Nemo

Much has been made about how changing the pH of ocean water prevents corals and other critters from calcifying  shells. Ocean acidification is also impacting fish in strange ways, too, says a study in a recent edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers led by Philip Munday at James Cook University in Australia explored the way clownfish and damselfish larvae responded to water with dissolved CO2 concentrations of 700 ppm and 850 ppm. Surprisingly, they were attracted... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on July 27, 2010 No Comments »
Category : The Oceans

The table is set

Biologists have it relatively easy studying animal behavior. Sometimes they need the help of binoculars or underwater scopes and they often have to sit in uncomfortable thickets. Studying microorganisms can be a whole lot harder. They certainly say less. But microorganisms are vitally important to the Earth’s processes, both biological and chemical. The atmosphere is the result of their behavior, and in that respect so is the climate. MIT scientists are studying how marine microorganisms feed... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on July 22, 2010 No Comments »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists, The Oceans

In deep waters

Antarctic Bottom Water sounds like it’s frigidly cold, and it is. It’s the densest water in the ocean, made from open ocean water that’s cooled by surrounding polar ice that then sinks. As it’s replenished, the bottom water spreads northward like an icy chill and drives the ocean conveyor belt. It’s been thought that it would take centuries for warming surface waters to penetrate such depths. But new research published in the recent journal Science finds that climate... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on July 19, 2010 No Comments »
Category : The Oceans

Oceans aboard

Rising seas –  of 2 feet, five feet, or even 7 feet –  have been a topic of much speculation. And knowing answers matter. How far should communities plan to back away from the ocean? What size dams are needed? How many people are in danger? Further complicating the science is the fact that global sea level rise isn’t actually global. The seas don’t rise uniformly everywhere. Changes in oceanic and atmospheric circulation impact regions differently, causing some places... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on July 15, 2010 No Comments »
Category : The Oceans

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