The Hot Zone

Tropics most sensitive to warming trends

High latitude regions of the planet like the Arctic are experiencing the greatest warming.  But tropical areas, which see a much smaller temperature range during the year, are showing the most significant signs of warming. The warming signal in the tropics will likely exceed past temperature ranges in the next two decades. A global temperate increase of 1 degree Celsius is lower than all economically plausible emissions scenarios. But that one degree makes a huge difference in the tropics, and... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on September 16, 2011 No Comments »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists

Scientists simulate climate’s worst case scenario

What happens if the human population continues to grow and nothing much changes in the way we curb fossil fuel use? Climate models these days have largely focused on scenarios that assume some level of restraint on greenhouse emissions, with particular emphasis on the political goal of keeping global temperatures no higher than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels.  But scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder and the Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on September 15, 2011 No Comments »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists

Research jets return with wealth of data on greenhouse gases

Black carbon particles in the Western Pacific are at levels comparable to megacities like Houston and Los Angeles because they are floating widely throughout the atmosphere. These dark colored particles, which form from incomplete combustion, are one of the major contributors to climate change by absorbing solar radiation and by causing snow and ice to melt faster. The discovery is just one of a number that’s expected to come out of the far-reaching expedition called HIPPO (HAIPER Pole-to-Pole... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on September 9, 2011 No Comments »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists

Arctic’s carbon reserves in danger

About 50 percent of the world’s organic carbon stored in the soil is locked down in the frigid northern reaches of the Arctic, below an icy permafrost cap and in rich peat lands. If all that carbon were released, atmospheric CO2 concentrations could go up a whopping 660-870 parts per million. Global warming is gradually unlocking these Arctic carbon reserves. In a paper published recently in the Journal of Geophysical Research, University of Alaska, Fairbanks geophysicist Guido Grosse and colleagues... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on September 8, 2011 No Comments »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists

Is it better to plant trees or not?

A long time ago in Northern Europe, dense forest was converted to farmland and has remained so ever since. Now there’s a movement to reforest some of those lands in an effort to counteract climate change. But the picture is complicated. Farmland may not absorb much carbon, but it accumulates snow in the winter which reflects light back into space creating a cooling effect in the atmosphere. Dark-colored forests, on the other hand, absorb a lot of heat, but the vegetation also locks down carbon.... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on September 5, 2011 No Comments »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists, The man made climate

Too warm or too cold? Scientists find clear warming trend

The past two years have been marked by extreme weather in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s been either too warm and too cold. “Snowmaggedon” in the Northeast turned into this summer’s record-breaking sweat fest. The two extremes don’t cancel each other out, however. On the whole, the warm weather has beaten out the cold in frequency and magnitude, say Scripps Institute of Oceanography scientists. Moreover, they say that the cold weather can be explained by a natural climate... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on September 2, 2011 No Comments »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists

Hydropower can emit more carbon than coal plants

Hydroelectricity is often posed as a carbon-free energy source. But get this. Some hydroelectric dams – particularly in the tropics – are even worse than fossil fuel power plants. A study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research examined greenhouse gas emissions coming from a large hydroelectic plant in Brazil: the Balbina Dam along the Uatumã River in the central Amazon basin. This dam flooded out more than 900 square miles of lush, tropical rainforest when it was built in... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on August 4, 2011 No Comments »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists

Climate change as a matter of weather frequency

Experts in the field of “climate communications” (yes, there is one), say this summer’s record-breaking temperatures across the country will have little long term impact once snowy weather sinks in this winter. Yes, people are that ADD when it comes to having a weather memory. Part of the confusion is that as weather changes, all the vagaries can chart people off course and keep them from seeing the bigger picture of climate. Now, if sweltering summers become the norm, or the expectation,... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on August 3, 2011 No Comments »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists

Warming Arctic sparks tundra fires

In the late summer of 2007, lightening struck a remote corner of the Arctic on Alaska’s North Slope and burned for three months. The tundra soil there was dry because the permafrost, which normally encapsulates the carbon-rich soil in an icy sealant, had melted. The fire burned until October snowfalls put it out, but left a char the size of Cape Cod – some 400 square miles- and large enough to see from space. Photo: Michelle Mack Michelle Mack, a biologist from the University of Florida,... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on July 29, 2011 1 Comment »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists

Warming Arctic unleashing toxic chemicals

Photo: NASA A decade after nations banded together to ban some of the most persistent toxic chemicals, they are now leaching back out into the environment as the planet warms. In a study published in the July 24 online edition of the journal Nature Climate Change, researchers led by the Air Quality Research Division of Environment Canada examined concentrations of so-called “persistent organic pollutants” (POPs) at two Arctic monitoring stations in Svalbard, Norway and Canada. These long-lasting... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on July 27, 2011 No Comments »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists


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