The Hot Zone

Warming Arctic sparks tundra fires

In the late summer of 2007, lightening struck a remote corner of the Arctic on Alaska’s North Slope and burned for three months. The tundra soil there was dry because the permafrost, which normally encapsulates the carbon-rich soil in an icy sealant, had melted. The fire burned until October snowfalls put it out, but left a char the size of Cape Cod – some 400 square miles- and large enough to see from space. Photo: Michelle Mack Michelle Mack, a biologist from the University of Florida,... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on July 29, 2011 1 Comment »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists

Warming Arctic unleashing toxic chemicals

Photo: NASA A decade after nations banded together to ban some of the most persistent toxic chemicals, they are now leaching back out into the environment as the planet warms. In a study published in the July 24 online edition of the journal Nature Climate Change, researchers led by the Air Quality Research Division of Environment Canada examined concentrations of so-called “persistent organic pollutants” (POPs) at two Arctic monitoring stations in Svalbard, Norway and Canada. These long-lasting... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on July 27, 2011 No Comments »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists

Spotlight on Venice: Climate change a wash in the City of Water

Photo: Ian Britton Ahh, Venice – the City of Water. Built on a lagoon along the Adriatic Sea, there must be a looming disaster in store for this lovely, sinking city in the face of climate change. Right? That was the harsh verdict of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). But new research is questioning that conclusion. The frequency of storm surges– known by Venetians as “Acqua Alta”– is expected to drop 30 percent by the end of this century. That’s... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on July 24, 2011 No Comments »
Category : Spotlight

Impacts of climate change felt way into future

The delay, or lag time, in the Earth’s climate system means that the full impacts of global warming will be felt long into the future. Well past our lifetimes, even. Atmospheric warming is followed by ocean warming is followed by a melting of polar ice sheets is followed by sea level rise. Scientists are trying to predict this new, warmer state by looking into the record of past eras of climate change. In a study out of the University of Arizona, researchers found that melting ice sheets had... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on July 18, 2011 No Comments »
Category : The Oceans

Gray whales a model in climate adaptation

In the time since California gray whales existed, the Earth has gone through more than 40 cycles of warming and cooling. Many species have been impacted and have even died out, but the gray whale has persisted for 250 million years. How did the gray whale survive? The gray whales, it turns out, may be a model in how a species can adapt and change during dramatic swings in the Earth’s climate. In the modern era, whaling has been the biggest threat to the gray whale survival, and in fact the... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on July 14, 2011 1 Comment »
Category : Climates of the Past

Could farmers be a solution to climate change?

Here’s a bit of hope amongst the doom and gloom of climate change. Set aside for a moment the massive engineering feat that would be required of pumping CO2 into underground storage tanks. That idea is going who knows where. A potentially viable solution to restoring carbon back into the earth resides with simple changes in the way we farm. An aerial view of farms in Tansmania. Photo: A piece in Discover magazine, Could Dirt Help Health the Climate?, outlines the way agriculture... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on July 7, 2011 No Comments »
Category : The Oceans

California premium wines a victim of climate change

The cost of averting climate change is often argued as a reason to do nothing. But climate change also has severe economic consequences. Among them: a nice, cool glass of premium California chardonnay. A new Stanford University study reports that by 2040 the amount of land suitable for growing high value wines in Northern California could shrink by half as a result of higher temperatures. That would take a severe blow to the country’s wine industry. California produces 90 percent of the nation’s... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on July 1, 2011 No Comments »
Category : The man made climate

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