Climate: No slowdown in greenhouse gas buildup


Atmospheric concentrations of CO2 reached a new record in 2014 and aren’t about to drop anytime soon.

“Every year we report a new record in greenhouse gas concentrations … Every year we say that time is running out”

Atmospheric concentrations of heat-trapping carbon dioxide will soon stay above the symbolic 400 parts per million mark permanently, the World Meteorological Organization said this week in its annual report on the state of the global atmosphere. Continue reading

Ocean acidification may aid spread of invasive species


Jellyfish are resilient to ocean acidification and may spread to new areas as the oceans absorb more CO2. Photo by Dan Hershman via the Creative Commons.

Plymouth University researchers track ocean impacts of rising CO2 levels

Staff Report

Killer algae outbreaks and toxic jellyfish blooms may spread to new areas of the globe as oceans become more acidic, scientists found in a new study.

Species like Japanese kelp and stinging jellyfish are much more resilient to rising CO2 levels than hard-shelled ocean creatures, whose shells can simply dissolve in more corrosive water.

“We are witnessing the spread of marine life that cause problems, such as toxic jellyfish blooms and rotting algal mats,” said Professor Jason Hall-Spencer, of Plymouth University. Continue reading

Climate: Permafrost meltdown triggers quick release of greenhouse gases to atmosphere

USGS researchers make ground-based permafrost measurements in Alaska.

USGS researchers make ground-based permafrost measurements in Alaska. Photo courtesy USGS.

Alaska study helps quantify climate impacts of melting permafrost

Staff Report

Much of the carbon stored in ancient Alaska soils could be released to the atmosphere shortly upon melting, according to a new study that aimed to help quantify how fast permafrost decomposes and how much carbon dioxide is produced in the process.

The measurements are important because frozen organic soils are not part of the carbon cycle — but they will be as they thaw, potentially releasing huge amounts of heat-trapping gases. Continue reading

Negotiators urged to include emissions from air and shipping sectors in upcoming Paris climate talks


Emissions from commercial air traffic already account for 5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and must be addressed as part of global climate agreement. @bberwyn photo.

Shipping, airline industries seen as reluctant players on global warming scene

Staff Report

Conservation groups this week said the world’s climate negotiators must include greenhouse gas emissions from air and ship traffic when they meet in Paris in December to finalize a global climate treaty.

In a letter to the U.S. State Department’s Todd Stern, special envoy for climate change, 19 groups said including shipping and aviation in the international agreement is critical because “combined emissions from these sectors already have a climate impact similar to that of Germany or South Korea.” Continue reading

Environment: Study says abandoned oil and gas wells are a pathway for methane leaks from new fracking sites


How much methane is leaking through damaged and abandoned wells? Photo via USGS.

Damaged well casings and fractured ground eyed in New York study

Staff Report

Spiderweb networks of abandoned oil and gas wells and cracked rocks may be significant pathways for methane leaks that aren’t being accurate measured, according to University of Vermont researchers who studied well patterns in New York.

The scientists said that not all abandoned wells are leaking — only those that are damaged, but given the large number of abandoned wells, those damaged casings can pose an evironmental risk, they concluded. Continue reading

EPA steps up ‘Green Chill’ efforts to cut greenhouse gases


New refrigerants could soon come on the market reduce the use of heat-trapping greenhouse gas pollution. @bberwyn photo.

New rule targets HFCs

Staff Report

The EPA is targeting sharp cuts of potent heat-trapping pollutants used for refrigeration with a series of new rules, as well as collaborative steps with industries that use hydrofluorocarbons.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy announced some of those steps last week during a White House roundtable, describing the partnership with companies like Target.

“The powerful combination of EPA’s regulatory actions and innovations emerging from the private sector have put our country on track to significantly cut HFC use and deliver on the goals of the President’s Climate Action Plan,” McCarthy said. Continue reading

Scientists eye link between warmer ocean and methane bubbles


Global warming could trigger more methane releases from the ocean floor. Photo courtesy NASA’s Blue Marble project.

Frozen gas may escape and intensify ocean acidification along the Pacific Northwest Coast

Staff Report

Warmer deep-ocean temperatures off the coast of the Pacific Northwest may be triggering methane releases, scientists said after studying an unusually high number of bubble plumes in the region.

The gas bubbles may be originating from melting deposits of methane “ice” that have been frozen and dormant for thousands of years, according to University of Washington researchers.

“We see an unusually high number of bubble plumes at the depth where methane hydrate would decompose if seawater has warmed,” lead author H. Paul Johnson said in a press release. “So it is not likely to be just emitted from the sediments; this appears to be coming from the decomposition of methane that has been frozen for thousands of years,” said Johnson, a UW professor of oceanography. Continue reading


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,950 other followers