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What Happened to the Sun over 7,000 Years Ago?

An international team led by researchers at Nagoya University, along with US and Swiss colleagues, has identified a new type of solar event and dated it to the year 5480 BC; they did this by measuring carbon-14 levels in tree rings, which reflect the effects of cosmic radiation on the atmosphere at the time. They have also proposed causes of this event, thereby extending knowledge of how the sun behaves.When the activity of the sun changes, it has direct effects on the earth. For example, when the sun is relatively inactive, the amount of a type of carbon called carbon-14 increases in the earth's atmosphere. Because carbon in the air is absorbed by trees, carbon-14 levels in tree rings actually reflect solar activity and unusual solar events in the past. The team took advantage of such a phenomenon by analyzing a specimen from a bristlecone pine tree, a species that can live for thousands of years, to look back deep into the history of the sun.

Change in astronaut's gut bacteria attributed to spaceflight

Northwestern University researchers studying the gut bacteria of Scott and Mark Kelly, NASA astronauts and identical twin brothers, as part of a unique human study have found that changes to certain gut “bugs” occur in space.The Northwestern team is one of 10 NASA-funded research groups studying the Kelly twins to learn how living in space for a long period of time — such as a mission to Mars — affects the human body. While Scott spent nearly a year in space, his brother, Mark, remained on Earth, as a ground-based control.

Could Rudolph and friends help to slow down our warming climate?

Reindeer may be best known for pulling Santa’s sleigh, but a new study suggests they may have a part to play in slowing down climate change too.A team of researchers, writing in the journal Environmental Research Letters, found that when reindeer reduce the height and abundance of shrubs on the Arctic tundra through grazing, the level of surface albedo – the amount of solar energy (shortwave radiation) reflected by the Earth back into space – is increased. 

Americans believe climate change connected to location and local weather

A new study finds local weather may play an important role in Americans’ belief in climate change. The study, published on Monday, found that Americans’ belief that the earth is warming is related to the frequency of weather-related events they experience, suggesting that local changes in their climate influence their acceptance of this worldwide phenomenon. “One of the greatest challenges to communicating scientific findings about climate change is the cognitive disconnect between local and global events,” said Michael Mann, associate professor of geography at George Washington University and co-author of the paper. “It is easy to assume that what you experience at home must be happening elsewhere.”

Warming global temperatures may not affect carbon stored deep in northern peatlands, study says

Deep stores of carbon in northern peatlands may be safe from rising temperatures, according to a team of researchers from several U.S.-based institutions.And that is good news for now, the researchers said.Florida State University research scientist Rachel Wilson and University of Oregon graduate student Anya Hopple are the first authors on a new study published today in Nature Communications. The study details experiments suggesting that carbon stored in peat—a highly organic material found in marsh or damp regions—may not succumb to the Earth's warming as easily as scientists thought.

Saharan dust in the wind

Every year, trade winds over the Sahara Desert sweep up huge plumes of mineral dust, transporting hundreds of teragrams — enough to fill 10 million dump trucks — across North Africa and over the Atlantic Ocean. This dust can be blown for thousands of kilometers and settle in places as far away as Florida and the Bahamas.The Sahara is the largest source of windblown dust to the Earth’s atmosphere. But researchers from MIT, Yale University, and elsewhere now report that the African plume was far less dusty between 5,000 and 11,000 years ago, containing only half the amount of dust that is transported today.

Study reveals 82% of the core ecological processes that underpin ecosystems and provide services to people are now affected by climate change

Most studies of global climate change attempt to predict what might happen to the Earth as temperatures rise in future.  A new study representing an international collaboration by ecologists and conservation biologists shows that global changes in climate have already impacted every aspect of life on Earth, from genes to entire ecosystems. It was published in the prestigious journal Science on November 10, 2016. The research team, led by the University of Florida and with participation from the University of Hong Kong, showed that of a total of 94 ecological processes evaluated globally, 82% of them showed evidence of impact from climate change.  Land, freshwater and marine ecosystems and species have all been all affected, and consequential impacts on people could range from increased pests and disease outbreaks, to unpredictable changes in fisheries and decreasing agriculture yields. 

Thawing ice makes the Alps grow

The Alps are steadily “growing” by about one to two millimeters per year. Likewise, the formerly glaciated subcontinents of North America and Scandinavia are also undergoing constant upward movement. This is due to the fact that at the end of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) about 18,000 years ago the glaciers melted and with this the former heavy pressure on the Earth’s surface diminished. The ice reacted rapidly to climate change at that time whereas the Earth’s crust is still responding today to this relatively sudden melting of ice. 

Study: Carbon-Hungry Plants Impede Growth Rate of Atmospheric CO2

New findings suggest the rate at which CO2 is accumulating in the atmosphere has plateaued in recent years because Earth’s vegetation is grabbing more carbon from the air than in previous decades.That’s the conclusion of a multi-institutional study led by a scientist from the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). It’s based on extensive ground and atmospheric observations of CO2, satellite measurements of vegetation, and computer modeling. The research is published online Nov. 8 in the journal Nature Communications.

5 Species Most Likely to Survive a Climate Change Disaster

Survival of the fittest. This basic tenet of evolution explains why the dodo bird no longer exists and why humans have opposable thumbs.Adaptation is key to survival, no matter how many fingers you’ve got. The ability to adjust to whatever conditions Mother Earth sends our way determines whether obstacles lead to extinction or to a new generation.Human-accelerated climate change is a disaster waiting to happen. We’ve already seen the superstorms and drought it can create. Although we can work to slow climate change, there’s no way to stop it completely. This reality means adaptation will once again become the most important strategy for survival.One thing’s for sure: the Earth will continue to exist as it has for eons. The question is, what will be left behind to inhabit it?Below are five species known for their resilience and ability to survive in adverse conditions. They are the most likely to survive a climate change disaster. Spoiler: humans don’t make the list