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  • Editor's Note

    Would you opt to see the future or decipher the past?

    Wouldn’t it be brilliant if every scientist had a crystal ball? It’s a question that came to me while reading Alexandra Witze’s story “What the Pliocene epoch can teach us about future warming on Earth.” Witze discusses how scientists are studying a warming period some 3 million years ago to try to understand how Earth will handle rising temperatures. The geologic epoch, known as the Pliocene...

    11/29/2017 - 15:45 Science & Society, Climate
  • News in Brief

    In the deep ocean, these bacteria play a key role in trapping carbon

    A mysterious group of microbes may be controlling the fate of carbon in the dark depths of the world’s oceans.

    Nitrospinae bacteria, which use the nitrogen compound nitrite to “fix” inorganic carbon dioxide into sugars and other compounds for food and reproduction, are responsible for 15 to 45 percent of such carbon fixation in the western North Atlantic Ocean, researchers report in the...

    11/28/2017 - 11:00 Oceans, Climate, Microbes
  • Feature

    What the Pliocene epoch can teach us about future warming on Earth

    Imagine a world where the polar ice sheets are melting, sea level is rising and the atmosphere is stuffed with about 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide. Sound familiar? It should. We’re living it. But the description also matches Earth a little over 3 million years ago, in the middle of the geologic epoch known as the Pliocene.

    To understand how our planet might respond as global...

    11/28/2017 - 08:00 Earth, Climate
  • Reviews & Previews

    Climate foiled Europeans’ early exploration of North America

    A Cold WelcomeSam WhiteHarvard Univ., $29.95

    Many people may be fuzzy on the details of North America’s colonial history between Columbus’ arrival in 1492 and the Pilgrims’ landing on Plymouth Rock in 1620. But Europeans were actively attempting to colonize North America from the early 16th century onward, even though few colonies survived.

    As historian Sam White explains in A Cold...

    11/25/2017 - 08:00 Climate, History of Science, Oceans
  • Science Visualized

    Watch NASA’s mesmerizing new visualization of the 2017 hurricane season

    View the video

    How do you observe the invisible currents of the atmosphere? By studying the swirling, billowing loads of sand, sea salt and smoke that winds carry. A new simulation created by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., reveals just how far around the globe such aerosol particles can fly on the wind.

    The complex new simulation, powered by...

    11/20/2017 - 07:00 Earth, Climate
  • News in Brief

    Humans are driving climate change, federal scientists say

    It is “extremely likely” that humans are driving warming on Earth since the 1950s. That statement — which indicates a 95 to 100 percent confidence in the finding — came in a report released November 3 by the U.S. Global Change Research Program. This interagency effort was established in 1989 by presidential initiative to help inform national science policy.

    The 2017 Climate Science...

    11/03/2017 - 18:19 Climate, Earth
  • News

    Wind may be driving the melting of East Antarctica’s largest glacier

    View the video

    The wind is helping to awaken one of Antarctica’s sleeping giants. Warm ocean waters, driven inland by winds, are undercutting an ice shelf that holds back a vast glacier from sliding into the ocean, researchers report November 1 in Science Advances.

    Totten Glacier is East Antarctica’s largest glacier, with a drainage basin encompassing about 550,000 square...

    11/01/2017 - 14:24 Earth, Climate, Oceans
  • News in Brief

    Climate change may threaten these bamboo-eating lemurs

    The only lemurs so dependent on bamboo that they gnaw on hardened, nutrient-poor stems during the dry season might dwindle away as those seasons grow longer.

    Reconstructing the history of the greater bamboo lemur (Prolemur simus) in Madagascar suggests that drier areas over thousands of years already have lost their populations. As the region dries further due to climate change and the...

    10/26/2017 - 12:00 Animals, Climate
  • News

    As ice retreats, frozen mosses emerge to tell climate change tale

    SEATTLE — Some mosses in the eastern Canadian Arctic, long entombed in ice, are now emerging into the sunlight. And the radiocarbon ages of those plants suggest that summertime temperatures in the region are the warmest they’ve been in tens of thousands of years.

    As the planet warms and the ice retreats on Canada’s Baffin Island, the change is revealing plants long buried beneath the ice...

    10/26/2017 - 07:00 Climate, Earth, Plants
  • Television

    ‘Killer Hurricanes’ reconstructs the past to predict storms of the future

    In 1780, a powerful hurricane swept across the islands of the Caribbean, killing an estimated 22,000 people; 5,000 more died of starvation and disease in the aftermath. “Our planet is capable of unleashing extreme chaos,” begins the new NOVA documentary “Killer Hurricanes,” set to air November 1 on PBS.

    To describe the human impact of such powerful tropical cyclones, the documentary...

    10/22/2017 - 08:00 Climate, Oceans, Science & Society