Tag Archives: climate system

What Earth’s climate system and topological insulators have in common

New research shows that equatorial waves — pulses of warm ocean water that play a role in regulating Earth’s climate — are driven by the same dynamics as the exotic materials known as topological insulators. (more…)

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Oceanic ‘heat sink’

Multi-institutional study sheds new light into global warming ‘hiatus’

A new multi-institutional study of the so-called global warming “hiatus” phenomenon — the possible temporary slowdown of the global mean surface temperature (GMST) trend said to have occurred from 1998 to 2013 — concludes the hiatus simply represents a redistribution of energy within the Earth system, which includes the land, atmosphere and the ocean. (more…)

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Sea Floor Samples Help Explain Arid Southwest

Surface-dwelling algae adjust their biochemistry to surface temperatures. As they die and sink to the bottom, they build a sedimentary record of sea-surface temperature across millennia. Brown’s work on surface temperatures, coupled with work from Texas A&M on rainfall and weather patterns, has helped chart the wetter, lake-filled geological history of the currently arid American West.

During the last ice age, the landscape of the American West was very different. Where now there are deserts and salt flats in the Southwest and Great Basin regions, there once were giant lakes and wetlands. The Great Salt Lake, for example, is a tiny remnant of the prehistoric Lake Bonneville, which at one time covered almost 20,000 square miles. (more…)

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Study Finds Ancient Warming Greened Antarctica

PASADENA, Calif. — A new university-led study with NASA participation finds ancient Antarctica was much warmer and wetter than previously suspected. The climate was suitable to support substantial vegetation — including stunted trees — along the edges of the frozen continent.

The team of scientists involved in the study, published online June 17 in Nature Geoscience, was led by Sarah J. Feakins of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and included researchers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

By examining plant leaf wax remnants in sediment core samples taken from beneath the Ross Ice Shelf, the research team found summer temperatures along the Antarctic coast 15 to 20 million years ago were 20 degrees Fahrenheit (11 degrees Celsius) warmer than today, with temperatures reaching as high as 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees Celsius). Precipitation levels also were found to be several times higher than today. (more…)

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Study of Patagonian Glacier’s Rise and Fall Adds to Understanding of Global Climate Change

Glaciers play a vital role in Earth’s climate system, and it’s critical to understand what contributes to their fluctuation.

Increased global temperatures are frequently viewed as the cause of glacial melt, but a new study of Patagonia’s Gualas Glacier highlights the role of precipitation in the glacier’s fluctuation. The study, conducted by Sébastien Bertrand of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and his colleagues, reconstructs a 5,400 year-record of the region’s glacial environment and climate, comparing past temperature and rainfall data with sediment records of glacier fluctuations and the historical observations of early Spanish explorers. (more…)

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Climate Change Stirs ‘Perfect Moral Storm,’ Prof Says

The world is sailing into some killer storms and its leaders have done almost nothing to protect its boat. That’s the view of UW Professor Steve Gardiner, who likens climate change to a perfect storm — a convergence of three difficult problems that so far we’ve found ourselves unable to face, much less solve.

Gardiner is not a climate scientist but a philosopher — one who deals with matters of ethics. The book he’s written about the issue is A Perfect Moral Storm: The Ethical Tragedy of Climate Change. (more…)

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Deep Oceans May Mask Global Warming for Years at a Time

*Computer simulations of global climate lead to new conclusions*

Earth’s deep oceans may absorb enough heat at times to flatten the rate of global warming for periods of as long as a decade–even in the midst of longer-term warming. This according to a new analysis led by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

The study, based on computer simulations of global climate, points to ocean layers deeper than 1,000 feet as the main location of the “missing heat” during periods such as the past decade when global air temperatures showed little trend. (more…)

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Earth’s Hot Past: Prologue to Future Climate?

*Study of Earth’s deep past leads to look into the future*

 The magnitude of climate change during Earth’s deep past suggests that future temperatures may eventually rise far more than projected if society continues its pace of emitting greenhouse gases, a new analysis concludes.

The study, by National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) scientist Jeffrey Kiehl, will appear as a “Perspectives” article in this week’s issue of the journal Science. (more…)

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