The Hot Zone

Earth’s climate could take 100,000 years to recover, and a game to solve our climate woes

Maybe this isn’t news. But it sure got my attention. The Geological Society of London put out a position statement on climate change this week, and among its many interesting tidbits said that the Earth’s climate could take 100,000 years or longer to recover from this most recent bout of CO2, absent any human mitigation. The Society based this projection on numerical models of the climate system that went into the 2007 IPCC report. The Society’s advice, based on this conclusion,... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on November 3, 2010 No Comments »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists, Climates of the Past, The man made climate

Species may experience survival ‘tipping points’ at high temperatures

Some species seem to be taking climate change really hard, while others appear to be skating through it with little impact. But looks can be deceiving. As temperatures continue to rise, resilient species may, too, find themselves under too much change to survive. A new study published in the recent journal Nature explores how Arctic and alpine species are coping. Moss campion is vulnerable to high temperatures in the Rockies. Photo: Ben K on Picasa Ecologists Daniel Doak from the University of... [Read more]

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

Population growth could reverse carbon reduction gains

Back in the late 1960s, the environmental movement was in a tizzy over predictions that overpopulation would soon cause mass human starvation and eventually kill the planet. But the Malthusian vision fell to the wayside once the Green Revolution made farming that much more productive and countries began enacting environmental reforms that lessened some of the worst abuses in pollution. These days you don’t hear much concern over the size of Earth’s ballooning human population, even as... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on October 15, 2010 No Comments »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists, The man made climate

Climate change could jumpstart the metabolisms of tropical species

Metabolism is more than just what may be responsible for sluggishness or weight gain. In fact, it’s the basis of life, controlling everything from growth and reproduction to energy production and cell formation through a series of chemical reactions. Air temperature can affect metabolism, especially for species that rely on the external weather to control body temperature. Ectotherms like reptiles and amphibians get lethargic when it’s cold and frisky when it’s warm. New research... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on October 7, 2010 No Comments »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists

James Kasting: Finding a habitable planet

Planet Earth. Photo: NASA As we encounter all the successes and setback to environmental sustainability on our planet, there are those keeping up the mission to figure out what makes Earth habitable to begin with and whether life exists elsewhere in the universe. James Kasting, a geoscience professor at Penn State University and arguably the world’s leader in the study of habitable planets, offered some insights at the├é┬áCalifornia Academy of Sciences in San Francisco on Wednesday. His new... [Read more]

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

Frigid mountain glaciers prevent erosion

Glaciers are well known shapers of the landscape as they advance and recede through the ice ages. In the U.S. we even have Glacier National Park named after the work of glaciers, which carved out huge valleys and lakes and sculpted the dramatic mountains, which have exposed the finest fossilized examples of extremely early life found anywhere on Earth. As we all know, glaciers are in trouble. At the Montana Park, only 25 glaciers remain in 2010 of an estimated 150 that existed in the mid 1800s, and... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on September 17, 2010 No Comments »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists

An emissions filter

Peat bogs are an amazing carbon store. Up to a third of all the terrestrial carbon on Earth is captured by this kind of acidic wetland, a depository of dead plant material in northern ecosystems that are very biodiverse. As the planet warms, a lot of that carbon is being released back into the atmosphere as methane, one of the more potent forms of greenhouse gases. The source: the anaerobic degradation of a kind of moss called Sphagnum. Sphagnum decays in peat bogs. But a new study published in... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on September 1, 2010 No Comments »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists

Plants are complicated

Planting trees, as everyone knows, is a good way to offset climate change. The more greenery on Earth, the better, since vegetation act as carbon sinks, essentially sucking up the excess CO2 and storing it in leaves, stems, and root systems. But a recent paper published in the journal Nature Geoscience claims we have a long way to go towards understanding the biochemical processes in which plants interact with the climate. Simply looking at the carbon cycle involving plants is not enough, say the... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on August 8, 2010 No Comments »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists

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

Grass gone wild

Buying carbon offsets may, indeed, be a sin tax. But there are more reasons than dubious moral rectitude to question the practice. Offsets are based on the belief that doing things like replanting forests and setting aside undeveloped land will mitigate the effects of global warming because more greenery will draw down CO2 from the atmosphere. Some research has even shown that plants do well under higher CO2 concentrations, growing faster and more lush, a kind of carbon sequestration known as “CO2... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on July 1, 2010 No Comments »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists


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