The Hot Zone

Arctic waters warmest in 2,000 years

On the heels of a study showing that Arctic ice is highly susceptible to warm water fluxes from the Atlantic Ocean, comes a new one estimating that Arctic waters are the warmest they’ve been in 2,000 years. The interesting thing about this study, published in the journal Science this week, is that it looked at the history of tiny amoeboid protists called planktic foraminifers to tell the story. The remains of these creatures in sediment cores on the western edge of Svalbard, in Norway, were... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on January 31, 2011 No Comments »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists, The Oceans

Coal ash cause of Permian extinction

The mass Permian extinction 250 million years ago is frequently blamed on volcanoes. But a new study shows that what may have really tipped the climate was the volcanic release of massive amounts of combusted coal –  similar to modern day coal ash from coal-fired power plants. If so, modern day climate change hasn’t been the first time that burning coal was to blame. The extinction of that era wiped out some 90 percent of marine species, one of the largest extinction events in history.... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on January 28, 2011 1 Comment »
Category : Climates of the Past

Plants moving downhill in response to climate change

Higher temperatures are forcing species to take to cooler climes at higher elevations, the prevailing wisdom goes. But changes in precipitation also drive change, and in the case of plant species in the Northern Hemisphere, the movement may be driven downhill, not up. That’s according to a recent study published in the journal Science by a team of researchers led by Shawn Crimmins at the Department of Forest Management, at the University of Montana. The study looked at the distribution of 64... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on January 26, 2011 No Comments »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists

In Himalayas rocks buffer retreat of glaciers

Ever since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change erroneously reported that the Himalaya mountains would be glacier-free by 2035, the actual fate of the world’s highest range has been questioned. An accurate picture has been hard to develop because of differences in retreat rates and a lack of basic data on the glaciers. One study published this week in the journal Nature Geoscience sheds some new light on mountaintop glacial dynamics in the Himalayas. Lead author Dirk Scherler from... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on January 24, 2011 No Comments »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists

How Genghis Khan may have cooled the planet

If human consumption and population growth can be linked to warming the climate, there’s certainly a sensible argument to be made that a reversal in the trend could cool the planet down. War, invasion, disease epidemics, and societal collapse — all events that are devastating to humans — may actually have helped drop temperatures momentarily, according to a study published this week in the journal, The Holocene. It’s kind of a morbid perspective, and one that pits humans squarely... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on January 21, 2011 No Comments »
Category : The man made climate

Seabed may be too turbulent to store carbon

The ocean floor has been eyed as a potential site to sequester carbon, the idea being that we can get CO2 far, far away from human activity by banishing it to the earthly equivalent of the Final Frontier. But if you get CO2 out of the way of humans, it may instead be smack dab in the middle of natural forces. In an editorial published this week in the journal Nature Geoscience, the fallibility of burying carbon below the sea bed is explored. The chief point of concern is that the ocean bed is actually... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on January 20, 2011 No Comments »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists, The Oceans

Earth’s sensitivity to CO2 may be twice what climate models show

Climate modeling is an inexact science, and scientists have long known that the models don’t account for everything, even though precision and accuracy is a big goal. But the limitations of climate modeling may have caused scientists to underestimate the Earth’s sensitivity to CO2 by a factor of two, according to an analysis by National Center for Atmospheric Research scientist Jeffrey Kiehl. In a perspectives piece published in the journal Science this week, Kiehl says that the models... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on January 14, 2011 No Comments »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists, Climates of the Past

Melting Arctic ice the result of warming Atlantic waters, not just atmosphere

Although air temperatures are often to blame for the melting of sea ice at the North Pole, scientists have been looking for another culprit, this time from below. Like a hot plate warming up a refrigerated meal, warm water circulating at 200-800 meters in the Atlantic flows underneath the surface layer of ice in the Arctic, toasting its underside. Normally, Arctic ice would be thick enough to create a cool enough buffer to the warm water below. But the underlying layer of warm water has further... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on January 11, 2011 1 Comment »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists, Earth Systems


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