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Study traces impacts of extreme Triassic-era global warming

Earth recovers slowly from periods of extreme global warming. Image courtesy NASA.

Carbon cycle breakdown may have enable temps to spiral out of control

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — One of the last episodes of extreme global warming resulted in a near-total breakdown of Earth’s biological systems — a 5-million-year ‘dead zone’ at the start of the Triassic period during which almost no new species appeared.

A study jointly led by the University of Leeds and China University of Geosciences (Wuhan), in collaboration with the University of Erlangen-Nurnburg (Germany), shows the cause of this lengthy devastation was a temperature rise to lethal levels in the tropics: around 50-60 degrees Celsius on land, and 40 degrees at the sea-surface. Continue reading

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Could cloud-seeding weaken hurricanes?

Researchers propose cloud-brightening to avert strong storms

A composite NOAA image of Hurricane Andrew, in 1992.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — While hurricanes are often feared as a destructive force of nature, they are also one of nature’s great climate regulators, helping to disperse ocean and atmospheric heat away from the equatorial region.

But some environmental scientists think it might be a good idea to reduce the intensity of hurricanes by seeding clouds to decrease sea surface temperatures when hurricanes form. Theoretically, the scientists claim the technique could reduce hurricane intensity by a category.

The team focused on the relationship between sea surface temperature and the energy associated with the destructive potential of hurricanes. Rather than seeding storm clouds or hurricanes directly, the idea is to target marine stratocumulus clouds, which cover an estimated quarter of the world’s oceans, to prevent hurricanes forming.

“Hurricanes derive their energy from the heat contained in the surface waters of the ocean,” said Dr Alan Gadian from the University of Leeds. “If we are able to increase the amount of sunlight reflected by clouds above the hurricane development region then there will be less energy to feed the hurricanes.” Continue reading

Massive crop failures more likely with global warming

The recent wheat crisis in Russia is a warning sign for potential large-scale global warming impacts. PHOTO COURTESY THE WIKIMEIDA COMMONS.

Holistic approach to agriculture reform needed to avoid  worst-case scenarios

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Global warming is likely to result in more frequent crop failures like the recent Russian wheat crisis, according to research conducted by the University of Leeds, the Met Office Hadley Centre and University of Exeter.

The worst effects of these events on agriculture could be mitigated by improved farming and the development of new crops, said Dr. Evan Fraser, one of the authors of the study.

“What is becoming clear is that we need to adopt a holistic approach; new crops for a changing climate and better farming practices that can only come about under more favorable socio-economic conditions,” Fraser said. “It appears that more developed countries with a higher gross domestic product tend to evolve more advanced coping mechanisms for extreme events. In China this is happening organically as the economy is growing quickly, but poorer regions such as Africa are likely to require more in the way of aid for such development.” Continue reading

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