The Hot Zone

Getting smaller

Global warming is causing many changes in species. Some are going extinct, others thriving, habitats are shifting, and ecosystems are reacting to changes in temperature, precipitation, acidity, and more. But could a global increase in temperature also change the morphology of a species? If the past is any indication, then add size and shape to the list. A study undertaken by the Florida Museum of Natural History and available online in the Journal of Mammalian Evolution (to be published in print... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on August 30, 2010 No Comments »
Category : Climates of the Past

Whiffs of oxygen

It’s pretty well accepted among the scientific community that life existed as far back as 3.5 billion years ago. But those were days before oxygen had accumulated to significant levels.What kind of creatures were lurking an an oxygren-free world? It wasn’t until 2.4 billion years ago during the so-called Great Oxidation Event that  photosynthesizing cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) produced enough oxygen to saturate into organic matter and dissolved iron in the ocean and then more.... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on August 24, 2010 No Comments »
Category : Climates of the Past

Energy checkbook

The journal Science has devoted a special issue to puzzling out the Earth’s energy problem. Among the articles, foretelling the prospects of moving solar electricity from Africa to Europe, the downer that cellulosic ethanol has become, and the possibility of a nuclear renaissance, is a large chart that compares various energy sources in the way they consume other natural resources. The surprising thing about the chart is that coal and oil don’t come out looking so bad. There’s a... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on August 18, 2010 No Comments »
Category : The man made climate

Oceans away

As I reported earlier, new research is showing the intimate connections between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans during past major climate events. Just because an ocean is an ocean away, doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel the impact of, say, the collapse of the Atlantic conveyor belt, as happened as the last Ice Age ended some 17,000 years ago. Now another study of around the same time period was published recently by researchers at Oregon State University in the journal Earth and Planetary... [Read more]

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

Engineering the skies

One favorite geo-engineering trick to stabilize the climate is to increase the amount of sunlight reflected back into space by pumping aerosols into the atmosphere, known as solar radiation management. While that might counter global warming to some extent, a new research paper published last month in the journal Nature Geoscience finds that it’s no solution to the planet’s climate woes and may in fact cause certain parts of the world to receive less precipitation, even as global temperatures... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on August 10, 2010 No Comments »
Category : The man made climate

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

Hitting bedrock

Ever heard of the Eemian period? It was the previous interglacial period, starting about 130,000 years ago, and was marked by a climate similar to what we might expect under today’s climate change. The sea level was 16 feet higher and the temperatures about 5 degrees F warmer than today. That’s why scientists like the Eemian. So much so that they’ve put five years effort into drilling a 8,300 foot hole in Greenland’s thick glacial ice to study the Eemian climate. Last week... [Read more]

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

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