Climate: Are you ready for a greenhouse world?

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We are creating a greenhouse world.

More research confirms climate sensitivity to CO2

Staff Report

FRISCO — It’s seems more certain than ever that the buildup of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere is pushing the planet’s toward an entirely different state, according scientists in the UK.

Releasing a new study that took another detailed look at atmospheric CO2 concentrations during the warm Pliocene era, 2 to 3 million years ago, the researchers said it’s very likely that we are headed toward a much warmer future. Continue reading

Study suggests link between seafloor vulcanism and climate

Underwater volcanoes erupt in regular cycles, respond to changes in sea level

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Mid-ocean volcanic ridges are like seams on a baseball.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Volcanic activity on the ocean floors may have a significant effect on global climate, according to scientists who were recently able to measure that vulcanism with a set of sophisticated new instruments.

Combining the data with findings from previous research, Columbia University geophysicist Maya Tolstoy shows that ocean-floor vulcanism flares up on regular cycles that can linked with changes in the Earth’s orbit and other gravitational influences, including Earth’s distance from the sun, and that those cycles may trigger periodic climate swings.

Notably, Tolstoy found that most undersea volcanoes erupt during the first half of the year, from January through June, she reported in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

“People have ignored seafloor volcanoes on the idea that their influence is small, but that’s because they are assumed to be in a steady state, which they’re not,” said Tolstoy, a researcher at Columbia’s  Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “They respond to both very large forces, and to very small ones, and that tells us that we need to look at them much more closely.” Continue reading

Study: Tropical forests still gulping huge amounts of carbon, but for how long?

The word's rainforests, shown in green, are going to suffer huge biodiversity losses as global temperatures rise.

The word’s tropical rainforests, shown in green, are more important carbon sinks than previously thought.

Carbon uptake in northern forests slows

Staff Report

FRISCO — Tropical forests are even more important carbon sinks than previously believed, according to a new study led by NASA and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

The study estimates that tropical forests absorb 1.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide out of a total global absorption of 2.5 billion, in response to rising atmospheric levels of the greenhouse gas. Continue reading

New maps detail ocean acidification patterns

n northern winter, the Bering Sea, dividing Alaska and Siberia, becomes the most acidic region on earth (in purple) as shown in this February 2005 acidity map in pH scale. Temperate oceans are less acidic. The equatorial Pacific is left blank due to its high variability around El Niño and La Niña events. (Takahashi

During the northern hemisphere winter, the Bering Sea, dividing Alaska and Siberia, becomes the most acidic region on earth (in purple) as shown in this February 2005 acidity map in pH scale. Temperate oceans are less acidic. The equatorial Pacific is left blank due to its high variability around El Niño and La Niña events. Map courtesy Taro Takahashi.

New benchmark data will help track future changes

Staff Report

FRISCO — The world’s oceans are acidifying at a rate of about 5 percent each decade, a trend that could cost the global economy $3 trillion a year in lost revenue from fishing, tourism and other intangible lost ecosystem services.

At that pace, warm-water corals by the end of the century could be living in waters 25 percent more acidic than they are today, raising questions about the long-term survival of coral reef ecosystems.

To paint a more detailed picture of potential impacts, scientists have created an ocean acidification map, showing how how acidity levels vary across the world’s oceans. The data should help provide a benchmark for the future, as enormous amounts CO2 from fossil fuels ends up in the sea. Continue reading

Climate: Rising greenhouse gases will drive surge of pollen production, allergen exposure

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A new study projects a big spike in pollen production as atmospheric CO2 concentrations increase.

‘The implications of increasing CO2 for human health are clear’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Those sniffly, sneezy summer days are about to get a lot worse for allergy sufferers. Some types of grass pollen and exposure to allergens could increase by more than 200 percent in the next 100 years, due to predicted rises in carbon dioxide and ozone, according to University of Massachusetts Amherst scientists, who project a significant, worldwide impact on human health.

In their study of Timothy grass, environmental health researchers tried to determinedthe interactive effects of CO2 and ozone at projected higher levels on pollen production and concentrations of a Timothy grass pollen protein that is a major human allergen. The findings are reported in the current issue of PLOS ONE. Continue reading

Climate: Ocean acidification may be stunting coral growth

Mapping coral diseases is helping researchers determine the cause. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Coral growth is slowing dramatically along parts of the Great Barrier Reef. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Will the world’s coral reefs simply dissolve as oceans become more acidic?

Staff Report

FRISCO — Scientists monitoring the Great Barrier Reef said they’ve tracked a “perilous” 40 percent slowdown in coral growth rates since the 1970s.

The trend may be linked with increasing ocean acidification, according to the new study led  by researchers with the Carnegie Institution for Science.

The researchers compared current measurements of the growth rate of a section of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef with similar measurements taken more than 30 years ago. Continue reading

Climate: Cut carbon, stream your movies online

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Study finds that online movie viewing is more energy efficient

Staff Report

FRISCO —All those trips to the video store and Red Box, and all the fossil fuel used to manufacture and transport DVDs and CDs added up to more than 4 billion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions that could have been avoided (in 2011) if all media were simply streamed online, scientists concluded after taking a close look at the carbon budget of the entertainment business.

The study, published May 29 in the journal Environmental Research Letters, says more energy efficient electronic devices have tipped the balance toward online consumption of movies and music. A significant proportion of the energy consumption and carbon emissions for streaming comes from the transmission of data, which increases drastically when more complex, high-definition content is streamed. Continue reading

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