The Hot Zone

Sizzling Hot

Massive wildfires that cause untold destruction of life and habitat are becoming a feature of modern climate change. A mere 1.8 degree jump in temperature is predicted to equal a 40 percent increase in lightening, the main ignition source of natural fires. We already get some 8 million strikes a day under modern atmospheric conditions. It’s becoming sizzling hot here on Earth. Greece has been hit with massive wildfires in recent years. Photo courtsey of NASA, 2009 Foothills of NASA's... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on May 28, 2010 No Comments »
Category : Climates of the Past


Greenland’s coastal areas, rebounding like a sponge as the ice melts away, is rising upward about an inch a year. Geophysicists at the University of Miami found that if the trend continues, the acceleration could be as much as two inches per year by 2025. Sea Ice off Greenland's Coast “It’s been known for several years that climate change is contributing to the melting of Greenland’s ice sheet,” said Tim Dixon, a co-author of a study published in the latest Nature... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on May 25, 2010 No Comments »
Category : The Oceans

Ice, ice baby

Maybe the most defining characteristic of the Arctic is its ice. What would the Arctic be, if not for a frigid, barren, icy landscape? We’ve come to lament the loss of sea ice in the Arctic. Yet it’s interesting to note that the Arctic has, in fact, been ice free and for long periods of time. As recently as 125,000 years ago, the summertime brought ice-free conditions. In fact, it probably wasn’t until 14 million years ago — the launch of a cooling period — that the... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on May 16, 2010 No Comments »
Category : Climates of the Past, The Oceans

Reading the leaves

We know there’s a relationship between rising levels of CO2 and warmer temperatures. That, of course, is the crux of global warming science and plays an important part in the models that predict future climate change. But looking at the past can be just as informative. A group of Penn State-led geoscientists and ecologists are shedding light on the matter by looking at the ecological conditions that lead to types of carbon in plants leaves. In a paper published in March 2010 in Proceedings... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on May 13, 2010 No Comments »
Category : Climates of the Past

Lessons from the Ozone Hole

Happy 25th anniversary, ozone hole. Maybe it’s bad juju to celebrate our environmental calamities, but in this case the discovery of a big hole letting in UV radiation over the Antarctic gave us a chance to respond before it was too late. The discovery itself, therefore, is worth celebrating, not least because it happened under bad odds. You’d think a big hole would be easy to see. But, in fact, up until a May 1985 article in the journal Nature, most scientists had been using satellite... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on May 10, 2010 No Comments »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists

A faint young sun

Some 3.8 billion years ago was a mystery that scientists have long attempted to solve. Way back then, the Earth was a completely different place, and so was the solar system. The sun shined with less luminescence — as much as 30 percent weaker — which meant the Earth should have been really cold. So cold, in fact, that liquid water would not have existed. But the geologic record shows that water was, indeed, present and provided the foundation for the proverbial “primordial soup”... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on May 4, 2010 No Comments »
Category : Climates of the Past

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