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  • 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
  • Science Ticker

    Desert songbirds increasingly at risk of dehydration

    Desert songbirds, especially the little fit-in-your-hand ones, could soon face widening danger zones for lethal thirst in the southwestern United States, a new study predicts.

    Coping with heat waves can demand so much water evaporation to prevent heat stroke — from panting, for instance — that birds can die from dehydration, says Blair Wolf of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque...

    02/13/2017 - 17:11 Climate, Animals, Conservation
  • News

    Hot nests, not vanishing males, are bigger sea turtle threat

    Worries about climate change threatening sea turtles may have been misdirected.

    Warming that could lead to far more female hatchlings than males isn’t the most immediate danger from climate shifts. Lethally overheated beach nests are more important, researchers argue February 8 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

    Climate change can meddle with sex ratios of the seven species of...

    02/07/2017 - 19:05 Climate, Animals, Conservation
  • Science Ticker

    Cone snails wander in circles, lose focus with boosted CO2

    Cone snails are normally stealthy hunters, but they become clumsy and unfocused in water with increased levels of carbon dioxide.

    Oceans absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. As atmospheric CO2 levels rise, those in the oceans do too, changing the chemistry of the seawater.

    Cone snails (Conus marmoreus) that spent several weeks in water dosed to simulate CO2 levels expected at the turn...

    02/02/2017 - 17:00 Oceans, Climate, Animals
  • News

    Climate change may boost toxic mercury levels in sea life

    The muddying of coastal waters by climate change could drastically increase levels of neurotoxic mercury in sea life, contaminating food supplies.

    Shifting rainfall patterns may send 10 to 40 percent more water filled with dissolved bits of organic debris into many coastal areas by 2100. The material can cloud the water, disrupting marine ecosystems by shifting the balance of microbes at...

    01/27/2017 - 14:10 Oceans, Pollution, Climate
  • News in Brief

    Earth’s last major warm period was as hot as today

    The last time Earth’s thermostat was cranked as high as it is today, sea levels were high enough to completely drown New Orleans (had it existed at the time), new research suggests.

    Ocean surface temperatures around 125,000 years ago were comparable to those today, researchers report in the Jan. 20 Science. Previous estimates suggested that this period, the height of the last warm phase...

    01/19/2017 - 14:00 Climate, Earth, Oceans
  • News in Brief

    Monsoon deluges turned ancient Sahara green

    Thousands of years ago, it didn’t just rain on the Sahara Desert. It poured.

    Grasslands, trees, lakes and rivers once covered North Africa’s now arid, unforgiving landscape. From about 11,000 to 5,000 years ago, much higher rainfall rates than previously estimated created that “Green Sahara,” say geologist Jessica Tierney of the University of Arizona in Tucson and her colleagues....

    01/18/2017 - 16:37 Climate, Human Evolution
  • News

    For three years in a row, Earth breaks heat record

    For the third year running, Earth’s thermostat broke a new record: 2016 was the warmest year since record-keeping began in 1880.

    Spurred by climate change and heat from a monster El Niño, the global average surface temperature last year was 0.94 degrees Celsius (1.69 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than the 20th century average of 13.9° C (57° F). That slightly edges out the previous...

    01/18/2017 - 15:49 Climate, Oceans
  • News

    Petrified tree rings tell ancient tale of sun’s behavior

    The sun has been in the same routine for at least 290 million years, new research suggests.

    Ancient tree rings from the Permian period record a roughly 11-year cycle of wet and dry periods, climate fluctuations caused by the ebbing and flowing of solar activity, researchers propose January 9 in Geology. The discovery would push back the earliest evidence of today’s 11-year solar cycle by...

    01/17/2017 - 07:00 Climate, Astronomy
  • Science Ticker

    Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf nears breaking point

    One of Antarctica’s largest ice shelves is nearing its breaking point, scientists warn. A colossal crack in the Larsen C ice shelf abruptly grew by 18 kilometers during the second half of December 2016, members of the Antarctic research group Project MIDAS reported January 5. The crack is now only about 20 kilometers away from reaching Larsen C’s edge and snapping off a hunk of ice the size of...

    01/09/2017 - 15:32 Earth, Climate