The Hot Zone

Sooty skies

If the world could make one major change that would stave off climate change, what would it be? Stanford University engineering scientist Mark Jacobson has the answer: get rid of black soot. The dense carbon particles are the result of incomplete combustion of a hydrocarbon from engines, forest fires, and power plants. Ever seen discolored walls above the baseboard of an electric heating unit? That’s black soot. Black soot is the result of incomplete combustion of a hydrocarbon Black soot is... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on July 29, 2010 No Comments »
Category : The man made climate

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

What a degree means

Climate change scenarios are usually summed up in terms of expected change by a certain year. Like sea levels will rise by x amount by 2020 and y amount by 2050. Or by parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere. But because no one really knows what kind of carbon dioxide increases we’re facing (that having to do with the CO2 cutting regimen we choose), the whole forecasting effort becomes very ambiguous. That’s led some to throw their hands up on achieving greenhouse gas reductions in... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on July 23, 2010 No Comments »
Category : The man made climate

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

Drunk off fuel

Ethanol has been widely trumpeted as a viable alternative to fossil fuels, at least until a couple years ago when a food scarcity scare had people suddenly questioning whether food and energy should be competitors for the same land. But here’s another thing that needs considering. One in three molecules of ethanol in the atmosphere is now human-added. No one has questioned the impacts of pumping so much ethanol a year into the air. Until now. Research led by Princeton University has come up... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on July 13, 2010 No Comments »
Category : The man made climate

Biggest of them all

Mention Arctic ice melt and the first image to come to mind is the northern Atlantic. Mostly Greenland. Sometimes the far reaches of Canada or Iceland. Maybe it’s because the northern Atlantic is the same ocean that researchers from major institutions dip their toes in in 100-plus degree heat waves. But way out in the Pacific, researchers at the University of Hawaii are taking a different look at the climate. In a paper published this week in the journal Science, oceanographer Axel Timmermann... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on July 9, 2010 1 Comment »
Category : The Oceans

Where ice meets sea

How fast can a glacier melt? Usually the answer is attributed to the amount of warming or CO2 level rise. But researchers are also looking into the actual mechanics of glacier melt to get a handle on what’s causing ice to wear away. In a paper published recently in Nature Geoscience, Adrian Jenkins of the British Antarctic Survey and colleagues examined Pine Island Glacier, one of the two main contributors of ice loss in West Antarctica. Pine Island Bay, 1984. Photo by Tom Kellogg onboard the... [Read more]

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

Brave new world

It’s mighty hard to figure out what the Earth’s early atmosphere looked like some 4 billion years ago. But we know that it was hot — up to a stifling 153 degrees Fahrenheit, enough to melt wax. This has always been a paradox. After all, the sun’s light was  30 percent dimmer back then, so there should have been glaciers covering the planet. Imagine what would happen if the Earth lost a third of its solar radiation today. Let’s just say there would be no outdoor barbecues... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on July 2, 2010 No Comments »
Category : Climates of the Past

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