Our reporter is at the International Scientific Congress on Climate Change, part of the lead-up to the United Nations COP 15 climate talks in December, where there is tons of information -- little of it heartening
"There is not a lot, if any, good news that will be presented in the coming days," said Katherine Richardson, the University of Copenhagen oceanographer. So began the International Scientific Congress on Climate Change, a gathering in Denmark's capital city of scientists from around the world. The purpose of the conference is to synthesize the latest research on global warming. A summary of the findings will be distributed to the global policymakers who will meet here in December at the United Nations's COP 15 meeting.
A two-year polar survey finds ice sheets melting faster than expected, and more grim news
Less than two weeks before scientists from around the world gather in Copenhagen to issue recommendations for a new global climate-change treaty, the results from the two-year International Polar Year survey have arrived. They are not pleasant.
Finding the unexpected, 4,000 meters under the sea
Until last December, no one had ever seen the bottom of the Tasman Fracture, a trench that drops more than four kilometers below the surface of the ocean. A group of Australian and American researchers recently spent a month hundreds of kilometers southwest of the Tasmanian coast, exploring the fracture's depths. Jess Adkins, a professor at Caltech and one of the project's lead scientists, remembers sitting in his control room and watching the underwater life on his monitors with a sense of awe.
The Arctic’s permafrost contains twice as much carbon as the atmosphere. But as global temperatures rise, the frozen ground is melting fast and releasing greenhouse gases. Are we trapped in a deadly cycle?
One hundred thirty miles north of Nome, a small coastal village on Sarichef Island is feeling the effects of climate change. Shishmaref, Alaska, is falling into the sea. Rising temperatures are melting the permafrost, the layer of frozen ground beneath the surface. Without this firm base, waves have eroded the land on which Shishmaref’s villagers make their home. They must relocate their houses inland or start all over somewhere else.
Is global warming shifting into high gear? A federal project aims to find out
To predict the unpredictable: That’s the goal of a new government initiative on abrupt climate change. As the atmosphere reels under the influence of greenhouse gases, scientists fear the growing risk of dramatic environmental changes occurring within decades—far faster than current computer models predict. Ice sheets might not just melt but collapse wholesale, rapidly raising sea levels and flooding entire coastlines. Regional rain shortages could cause megadroughts that choke our water and food supply.
Arctic researchers rely on a fleet of unmanned aircraft
The thought of studying sea ice conjures up visions of scientists wrapped in expedition-weight parkas straddling dangerous ice cracks to take measurements. And when it comes to on-the-ground fieldwork, that image isn't far off base. But in recent years, a remote-controlled robotic plane has made work conditions a bit more tolerable for researchers who study the ice.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were used to take aerial photos as early as the 1970s, but it wasn't until 2000 that they began to play a role in studying the physics of sea ice.
Scientists uncover ancient gas samples and gain understanding of future climate change
We all know the climate is changing. But just how complicated is that process and how many factors are involved in creating this planate-wide problem? To partly answer that question, scientists have gone back nearly 90,000 years to examine Antarctic ice core samples, or, more specifically, the gas they contain. Their findings demonstrate the complex interplay between different geological players that contribute to climate changes and trends. The report implies that global warming, carbon dioxide levels, and ocean currents are not individual influencers on climate change but rather intertwined with each other. Knowing how these factors interacted many millennia ago will hopefully help scientists better understand climate change today and possibly predict future trends.
Small glaciers, not large ones, account for melting island
Though its cause may still be contentious for some (ahem, Sarah Palin), it is undeniable that Greenland is disappearing at a startling rate as large chunks of ice break off from the mainland and float away as icebergs. Until now, it was commonly thought that the melting and break up of mammoth glaciers was the most dramatic example of Greenland's changing landscape; however, new research shows that the real culprits are dozens of much smaller outflow glaciers dotting Greenland's coast.
Canada is losing its ice
Scientists say Arctic ice shelves located along the northern coast of Canada's Ellesmere Island have undergone massive changes during the summer of 2008. In July, a large section of the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf -- the largest in the Canadian Arctic -- broke off from Ellesmere Island. The entire Markham Ice Shelf broke away in early August and is now adrift in the Arctic Ocean. And two large sections of ice detached from the Serson Ice Shelf, reducing its size by 60 percent.
A thaw could release a flood of greenhouse gases
With so much focus on sea ice and ice shelves, the role of permafrost in the global climate cycle is often not on the public's radar screen. But according to a new study published last week in the journal Bioscience, permafrost in the Northern Hemisphere contains more than two times the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, and rapid thawing could make it a significant contributor to global climate change.
A new study claims sea level rise this century won't exceed six feet
A new study released by the University of Colorado at Boulder claims that a global sea rise of more than six feet by the year 2100 is nearly impossible.
The researchers used conservative, medium, and extreme scenarios for Greenland, Antarctica, and the world's smaller glaciers and ice caps. Each scenario produced a result from two feet of sea rise to no more than six feet of sea rise. When factoring in thermal expansion due to warming waters, the team concluded that the most plausible scenario would result in a total sea rise of roughly three feet to six feet by 2100.
Modeling the behavior of pollution clouds can help combat them
Chemists from Aerodyne Research, Inc. and Boston University have developed an aerosol mass spectrometer that will aid in the study of airborne particles and their effect on climate change and public health.
A new study, which could help scientists model global change more accurately, finds that typhoons bury tons of carbon in the oceans
When typhoons and hurricanes sweep through mountainous areas, they cause more than human destruction. They also physically and chemically weather the mountains they pass, taking carbon with them and burying it in the oceans in the form of sediment. This in turn allows the planet to cool. While scientists have long predicted that extreme storms cause such effects, only recently have they been able to measure just how carbon much storms take away: tons.
Cow dung could generate enough electricity for millions of homes and offices, and considerably cut down on greenhouse gases
It's mostly bad news when it gets under your shoes, but scientists now believe cow dung may be more of a blessing in disguise than previously believed. According to a team at the University of Texas Austin, if the manure from hundreds of millions of livestock in the U.S. were to go through anaerobic digestion—a fermentation process similar to one to create compost—it could turn into an energy-rich biogas. The gas would be efficient enough to produce 100 billion kilowatt hours of electricity; that could meet about 3 percent of North America's entire consumption needs.
Birds and power companies adapt to climate change; scientists downgrade its role in hurricane formation
So it looks like it's not all gloom and doom after all. A few recent studies have managed to find the slim silver lining of climate change. Below, a look at the three small positive outcomes of global warming.