• As climate warms, Colorado high peaks lose glaciers

    Melting of ice on Niwot Ridge and the adjacent Green Lakes Valley in the high mountains west of Boulder, Colorado, is likely to progress as climate continues to warm, scientists have found. Their study reveals declines in ice — glaciers, permafrost, subsurface ice, lake ice — in the Niwot Ridge area over the past thirty years. For glaciers like Arikaree, the time left may be counted in years, not centuries nor millennia, says one expert.

  • Earth’s 2015 surface temperatures the warmest since record keeping began in 1880

    Earth’s 2015 surface temperatures were the warmest since modern record keeping began in 1880, according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The 2015 temperatures continue a long-term warming trend, according to analyses by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York (GISTEMP). Most of the warming occurred in the past thirty years, with 15 of the 16 warmest years on record occurring since 2001. “Climate change is the challenge of our generation, and NASA’s vital work on this important issue affects every person on Earth,” said NASA administrator Charles Bolden.

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  • New plant growth technology may alleviate climate change, food shortage

    A research team has developed a new strategy to promote plant growth and seed yield by 38 percent to 57 percent in a model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, hence increasing CO2 absorption from the atmosphere. This technology may also have potential in boosting food production and thus could solve another danger of human civilization: food shortage due to overpopulation.

  • Coming El Nino could replenish Calif.’s aquifers – or ravage vulnerable infrastructure

    When respected climatologists describe this winter’s warming of tropical Pacific waters as a Godzilla El Nino event, they might be onto something. The science fiction monster’s signature move is to emerge from the ocean and destroy structures built by hapless humans. Many of the necessary plot elements are in place for El Nino to similarly wreak havoc in the Golden State in the coming months, says an expert.

  • Humanity has become a geological force: Scientists

    Humanity has become a geological force which is able to suppress the beginning of the next ice age, a study now published in the renowned scientific journal Nature shows. “Like no other force on the planet, ice ages have shaped the global environment and thereby determined the development of human civilization. For instance, we owe our fertile soil to the last ice age that also carved out today’s landscapes, leaving glaciers and rivers behind, forming fjords, moraines and lakes. However, today it is humankind with its emissions from burning fossil fuels that determines the future development of the planet,” says one expert.

  • Freshwater vulnerability threatens developing nations' stability

    Many nations and regions already facing uncertain political futures must contend with a growing threat to stabilization: freshwater vulnerability. An analysis of 119 low-income countries finds common challenges that could inform broad solutions.

  • Carbon in water must be accounted for in future climate projections

    U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists have documented that the carbon that moves through or accumulates in lakes, rivers, and streams has not been adequately incorporated into current models of carbon cycling used to track and project climate change.

  • Global learning required to prevent carbon capture, storage from being abandoned

    Governments should not be abandoning carbon capture and storage, argues a Cambridge researcher, as it is the only realistic way of dramatically reducing carbon emissions. Instead, they should be investing in global approaches to learn what works – and what doesn’t.

  • The impact of rising sea levels on Rhode Island

    Climate change will bring profound changes to Rhode Island’s coastal communities in the coming decades. Scientists project sea levels to rise 3 to 5 feet in the state by 2100, and recent government projections are as high as 7 feet. Now, University of Rhode Island students are studying one community that could be hit especially hard: Matunuck. The year-long analysis by eight senior ocean engineering students is so thorough that flooding projections were made for specific structures —709 to be exact. Those home and business owners will be able to find out what could happen to their buildings during a powerful storm with rising sea levels up to five feet.

  • Dawn of the Anthropocene: five ways we know humans have triggered a new geological epoch

    Is the Anthropocene real? That is, the vigorously debated concept of a new geological epoch driven by humans. Our environmental impact is indeed profound — there is little debate about that — but is it significant on a geological timescale, measured over millions of years? And will humans leave a distinctive mark upon the layers of rocks that geologists of 100,000,000AD might use to investigate the present day? The human-driven changes to the Earth’s environment are comparable in scale to those of earlier epochs. The extraordinarily wide range of geological signals associated with the Anthropocene means comparison with earlier epochs is not straightforward, but the evidence indicates an overall magnitude of change at least as large as that which ushered in the Holocene, our current geological epoch, and most other epochs. It means that humans are moving the Earth system from the comparative environmental stability of the Holocene into a new, evolving planetary state. And the impact will be felt by all human generations to come.

  • Record December boosted 2015 to second warmest year for contiguous U.S.

    The 2015 annual average U.S. temperature was 54.4°F, 2.4°F above the twentieth century average, the second warmest year on record. Only 2012 was warmer for the United States with an average temperature of 55.3°F. This is the nineteenth consecutive year the annual average temperature exceeded the twentieth century average. The first part of the year was marked by extreme warmth in the West and cold in the East, but by the end of 2015, record warmth spanned the East with near-average temperatures across the West. This temperature pattern resulted in every state having an above-average annual temperature.

  • The Anthropocene: Hard evidence for a new, human-driven geological epoch

    The evidence for a new geological epoch which marks the impact of human activity on the Earth is now overwhelming, according to a recent paper by an international group of geoscientists. The Anthropocene, which is argued to start in the mid-twentieth century, is marked by the spread of materials such as aluminum, concrete, plastic, fly ash, and fallout from nuclear testing across the planet, coincident with elevated greenhouse gas emissions and unprecedented trans-global species invasions. The researchers set out to anser this question: To what extent are human actions recorded as measurable signals in geological strata, and is the Anthropocene world markedly different from the stable Holocene Epoch of the last 11,700 years which allowed human civilization to develop?

  • Drought, heat deleterious for global crops

    Drought and extreme heat slashed global cereal harvests between 1964 and 2007 — and the impact of these weather disasters was greatest in North America, Europe, and Australasia. At a time when global warming is projected to produce more extreme weather, a new study provides the most comprehensive look yet at the influence of such events on crop area, yields, and production around the world.

  • Current pace of environmental change unprecedented in Earth’s history

    Researchers have further documented the unprecedented rate of environmental change occurring today, compared to that which occurred during natural events in Earth’s history. The environmental change in the past “appears to have been far slower than that of today, taking place over hundreds of thousands of years, rather than the centuries over which human activity is increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels,” says a leading expert.

  • Global electricity production vulnerable to climate change, water resource decline

    Climate change impacts and associated changes in water resources could lead to reductions in electricity production capacity for more than 60 percent of the power plants worldwide from 2040-2069. A new study calls for a greater focus on adaptation efforts in order to maintain future energy security. Making power plants more efficient and flexible could mitigate much of the decline.