The Hot Zone

Too warm or too cold? Scientists find clear warming trend

The past two years have been marked by extreme weather in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s been either too warm and too cold. “Snowmaggedon” in the Northeast turned into this summer’s record-breaking sweat fest. The two extremes don’t cancel each other out, however. On the whole, the warm weather has beaten out the cold in frequency and magnitude, say Scripps Institute of Oceanography scientists. Moreover, they say that the cold weather can be explained by a natural climate... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on September 2, 2011 No Comments »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists

Oceans levels have always varied, despite today’s rising tide

The IPCC assumes sea levels have barely changed over the past two millennia, setting today’s rate of 2 to 3 millimeters per year in stark contrast. But some scientists are questioning that simplification. Ocean levels, it seems, have never been stagnant. Glaciers and ice sheets have come and gone. Land masses have moved course. The Earth’s crust has rebounded following glacial melt from the last Ice Age, and that’s changed the volume of water in the oceans too. Understanding... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on August 31, 2011 No Comments »
Category : The Oceans

Climate cycles influence human conflict

Climate change destabilizes natural ecosystems, but does it also instigate war? A new study in the journal Nature sheds light on the hotly contested debate about whether climate variability plays a role in the onset of violence, especially in poor countries. The researchers led by Solomon Hsiang from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs focused on natural global climate cycles. They found that the arrival of El Niño, which raises temperatures and cuts rainfall... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on August 25, 2011 No Comments »
Category : The Politics of Climate Change

Newly discovered jet stream off Iceland coast regulates climate

It’s not every day that you discover a new ocean current – especially one in the Arctic that could be impacted by climate change. But scientists at the University of Bergen in Norway, in concert with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, have done just that. Deep below the ocean surface off Iceland, Kjetil VÃ¥ge and colleagues came across what they’ve named the North Icelandic Jet, a key contributor to the Atlantic Ocean conveyor belt. This overturning of warm water from the... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on August 22, 2011 No Comments »
Category : The Oceans

Antarctic ice sliding along bedrock to melt in warming sea

Scientists trying to map the melting of ice in Antarctica have come up with a discovery. Much of the ice flowing into the ocean is not the result of “deformation” of glaciers. Rather, the ice is sliding along bedrock. “That’s critical knowledge for predicting future sea level rise,” said Thomas Wagner, a NASA cryospheric program scientist in a press release. “It means that if we lose ice at the coasts from the warming ocean, we open the tap to massive amounts... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on August 21, 2011 No Comments »
Category : The Oceans

Arctic ice might expand in coming decades

Arctic sea ice is melting at a fast and steady rate. Or is it?  Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) have discovered that the polar ice might temporarily expand for as a long as a decade before succumbing to longer term melting trends. In a study published this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, the scientists explain this surprising conclusion. Using computer simulations, they found that the amount of sea ice loss over the 20th century could not be... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on August 12, 2011 No Comments »
Category : The Oceans

Hydropower can emit more carbon than coal plants

Hydroelectricity is often posed as a carbon-free energy source. But get this. Some hydroelectric dams – particularly in the tropics – are even worse than fossil fuel power plants. A study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research examined greenhouse gas emissions coming from a large hydroelectic plant in Brazil: the Balbina Dam along the Uatumã River in the central Amazon basin. This dam flooded out more than 900 square miles of lush, tropical rainforest when it was built in... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on August 4, 2011 No Comments »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists

Climate change as a matter of weather frequency

Experts in the field of “climate communications” (yes, there is one), say this summer’s record-breaking temperatures across the country will have little long term impact once snowy weather sinks in this winter. Yes, people are that ADD when it comes to having a weather memory. Part of the confusion is that as weather changes, all the vagaries can chart people off course and keep them from seeing the bigger picture of climate. Now, if sweltering summers become the norm, or the expectation,... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on August 3, 2011 No Comments »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists

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

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