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  • News

    Plot twist in methane mystery blames chemistry, not emissions, for recent rise

    A recent upsurge in planet-warming methane may not be caused by increasing emissions, as previously thought, but by methane lingering longer in the atmosphere.

    That’s the conclusion of two independent studies that indirectly tracked concentrations of hydroxyl, a highly reactive chemical that rips methane molecules apart. Hydroxyl levels in the atmosphere decreased roughly 7 or 8 percent...

    04/20/2017 - 08:00 Climate, Pollution, Chemistry
  • Say What?

    ‘River piracy’ on a high glacier lets one waterway rob another

    River piracy\RIV-er PAHY-ruh-see \ n.

    The diversion of headwaters from one stream into another

    Ahoy! There be liquid booty on the move in the high mountains. Since May 2016, a channel carved through one of northwestern Canada’s largest glaciers has allowed one river to pillage water from another, new observations reveal. This phenomenon, almost certainly the result of climate change, is...

    04/17/2017 - 11:00 Earth, Climate
  • Science Ticker

    The Great Barrier Reef is experiencing a major coral bleaching event right now

    A severe coral bleaching event spurred by high ocean temperatures has struck the Great Barrier Reef for an unprecedented second time in 12 months, reveal aerial surveys released April 10 by scientists at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia. While last year the northern third of the reef was hardest hit, this time around the reef’s midsection experienced the worst bleaching. The two...

    04/11/2017 - 15:45 Climate, Oceans, Ecosystems
  • Say What?

    Whirlwinds of crystals called gravel devils spotted in Andes Mountains

    Gravel devil\GRAV-uhl DEV-uhl \ n.

    A whirlwind containing gravel-sized debris

    Towering, crystal-filled twisters periodically swirl in a valley nestled between two volcanoes in the Andes Mountains, newly reported observations show. The odd weather events are the first record of large pieces of gravel efficiently moving across a landscape by suspension in air.

    Geologist Kathleen...

    04/11/2017 - 07:00 Earth, Climate
  • News in Brief

    Thinning ice creates undersea Arctic greenhouses

    Sea ice skylights formed by warming Arctic temperatures increasingly allow enough sunlight into the waters below to spur phytoplankton blooms, new research suggests. Such conditions, probably a rarity more than two decades ago, now extend to roughly 30 percent of the ice-covered Arctic Ocean during July, researchers report March 29 in Science Advances.

    The microscopic critters need...

    03/29/2017 - 14:00 Oceans, Ecosystems, Climate
  • Science Ticker

    Arctic sea ice hits record wintertime low

    Arctic sea ice has hit a record low for the third year in a row. It’s the paltriest maximum extent seen since recordkeeping began in 1979, scientists at NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center announced March 22.

    Total sea ice cover on the Arctic Ocean peaked on March 7, satellite observations show, reaching a total area of 14.42 million square kilometers. That’s around 100,000...

    03/23/2017 - 12:31 Climate, Oceans
  • News

    Changing climate could worsen foods’ nutrition

    A dinner plate piled high with food from plants might not deliver the same nutrition toward the end of this century as it does today. Climate change could shrink the mineral and protein content of wheat, rice and other staple crops, mounting evidence suggests.

    Selenium, a trace element essential for human health, already falls short in diets of one in seven people worldwide. Studies link...

    03/13/2017 - 15:07 Climate, Nutrition, Agriculture
  • News

    Warming soils may belch much more carbon

    As the planet warms, carbon stashed in Earth’s soils could escape into the atmosphere far faster than previously thought. In the worst-case scenario for climate change, carbon dioxide emissions from soil-dwelling microbes could increase by 34 to 37 percent by 2100, researchers report online March 9 in Science. Previous studies predicted a more modest 9 to 12 percent rise if no efforts are...

    03/09/2017 - 14:00 Earth, Climate
  • Reviews & Previews

    Invasive species, climate change threaten Great Lakes

    The Death and Life of the Great LakesDan EganW.W. Norton & Co., $27.95

    Every summer, people flock to the Great Lakes to swim and fish in the seemingly infinite waters and hike along the idyllic shores. But an ominous undercurrent flows just out of sight. Below the water’s surface rages an environmental catastrophe 200 years in the making.

    In The Death and Life of the Great...

    03/07/2017 - 08:00 Ecosystems, Climate, Science & Society
  • Science Ticker

    Antarctic sea ice shrinks to record low

    Sea ice around Antarctica shrunk to its lowest monthly extent on record in January, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports.

    Antarctic sea ice extent averaged just 4.04 million square kilometers, 1.19 million square kilometers below the 1981 through 2010 average. That’s 280,000 square kilometers smaller than the previous record low, set in 2006.

    The new record...

    02/17/2017 - 13:14 Climate, Oceans, Earth