Close to half the world’s population cooks over an open fire every day. That’s hard on human health—people cooking over an open fire breathe in smoke and gases that can damage their lungs.
What’s Cooking in Ghana?
On the Origin of Life in the Galápagos Islands
The Galápagos Islands are home to a tremendous diversity of plants and animals found nowhere else in the world. But why this is, and when it all began, remains something of an open question.
Closer Collaborations Between Scientists, Data Users Aim to Improve Decision Making
Scientists are increasingly forming tight partnerships with water managers, community leaders, risk managers and other decision makers, collaborating in the actual design of research. Such “co-produced science” not only improves decisions, but can help scientists generate knowledge that has broader impact than a scientific paper. CIRES' Jeff Deems is one of hundreds presenting on "co-produced science" at AGU.
Faster Than the Speed of Ice
Glaciers and ice sheets move in unique and sometimes surprising patterns, according to a new method that uses satellite images to provide a near-real-time view of flowing ice in Greenland, Antarctica and mountain ranges around the world. With imagery and data from Landsat 8, scientists including from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (part of CIRES at CU Boulder) are mapping the flow speed for every large glacier and ice sheet on Earth, and making it available in near-real-time, online.
CIRES Science at #AGU16
Talks and posters by CIRES scientists, events and more CIRES @ #AGU16
Sea Ice Hit Record Lows in November
Unusually high air temperatures and a warm ocean have led to a record low Arctic sea ice extent for November, according to scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado Boulder. In the Southern Hemisphere, Antarctic sea ice extent also hit a record low for the month, caused by moderately warm temperatures and a rapid shift in circumpolar winds.
On October 1, top chemistry researchers from around the country came to Missoula, Montana, to light stuff on fire. They converged at an old building that looked like a mad scientist’s warehouse. Inside, they helped each other set up millions of dollars worth of instruments. Wind tunnels weaved in and out of the walls, and a rickety elevator ferried researchers to the top of a giant smoke funnel. These scientists were kicking off a multi-year mission called FIREX—Fire Influence on Regional and Global Environments Experiment, to better understand the air quality and climate effects of fire—in the controlled environment of the Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station Fire Sciences Laboratory (Fire Lab).
CIRES Visiting Fellow Adam Schneider uses environmental archaeology to understand how changes of climate affected people in the ancient Middle East and North Africa.
Distant Impacts: Smoke, Dust from Pacific Northwest Fires affect Colorado's Air Quality
During poor air quality days in Denver last year, scientists found that specks of mineral dust swept into the region along with smoke from Pacific Northwest wildfires, they report in a new study published in the Journal of Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. Both smoke and mineral dust have consequences not only for health, but also for climate.
Pollution Emitted Near Equator has Biggest Impact on Global Ozone
Since the 1980s, air pollution has increased worldwide, but it has increased at a much faster pace in regions close to the equator.
Polar Bear Season
Four CIRES researchers, including CIRES Fellow Jen Kay, head north, to the Arctic tundra near Churchill, Canada, just in time to see the local polar bears as they congregate on the shores of Hudson Bay.
NOAA-Led Work Could Improve Air Quality, Climate Modeling
The United States and the European Union take markedly different approaches to vehicle emissions controls, and the evidence is in the air, according to a new study.
Just Who Lives With You?
Researchers from North Carolina State University and the University of Colorado Boulder used DNA testing and citizen science to create an “atlas” that shows the range and diversity of arthropods found in homes across the continental United States.
Stone Walls, Railway Lines and Carbon Fibers Record Turkey's Westward Drift
In February 1944, a magnitude 7.4 earthquake shook a sparsely populated region of central Anatolia in Turkey. Within hours, the steel rails of the Ankara-Istanbul railroad began to distort. By the next day, they had been misaligned by more than 13 feet as a result of slip on the North Anatolian Fault, a fault with many similarities to the San Andreas Fault in California.
The "Fingerprint" of Feedlots
Gathering accurate, big-picture information on emissions from concentrated animal feedlot operations (CAFOs) is no easy task.
Study Finds Fossil Fuel Methane Emissions Greater than Previously Estimated
Methane emissions from fossil fuel development around the world are up to 60 percent greater than estimated by previous studies, according to new research led by scientists from CIRES and NOAA.
By dissecting the sloshing signals of ocean tides recorded by magnetic satellites high above the Earth, a team of international researchers has managed to produce interior images of our planet, the scientists reported today in the journal Science Advances. Their proof-of-concept work could transform scientists’ ability to image and understand what lies below Earth’s crust, and could even help them remotely probe the interiors of other celestial bodies with tidal saltwater, such as Jupiter’s moon Europa
Wastewater Injection and Induced Seismicity
An increase in earthquake activity is occurring in areas of the eastern and central U.S., areas where unprecedented volumes of wastewater, produced along with oil and gas, are being disposed of, by injection, into deep geological formations. A new study, out today in Science, provides strong evidence of the link between oil and gas wastewater disposal and earthquakes in Texas.
Losing Its Cool
Measuring just how much mass a glacier is losing—through melting and calving—is no easy task. While there’s plenty of satellite data from space, scientists haven’t had access to much local, on-the-ground observation, which is the sort of information that’s necessary to more accurately measure glacial mass loss. But now a team of scientists, including CIRES’ Mike Willis, have put a series of GPS systems in place that give them the kind of data they need. Using that information, they find that previous estimates of mass loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet—already known to be shrinking—may be underestimates.
2016 Ties 2007 for Second Lowest Arctic Sea Ice Minimum
The Arctic’s ice cover appears to have reached its minimum extent on September 10, 2016, according to scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, part of CIRES and CU Boulder. Arctic sea ice extent on that day stood at 4.14 million square kilometers (1.60 million square miles), statistically tied at second lowest in the satellite record with the 2007 minimum
Indigenous Knowledge at International Data Week
Welcome to the first ever International Data Week! This event, which runs September 11-17, brings together data scientists, researchers and policy makers in exploring how to take advantage of the data revolution and use all that information to benefit society. Among the participants this year is the Exchange for Local Observations and Knowledge of the Arctic (ELOKA).
Preventing Human-Caused Earthquakes
While the earthquake that rumbled below Colorado’s eastern plains May 31, 2014, did no major damage, its occurrence surprised both Greeley residents and local seismologists. The earthquake happened in an area that had seen no seismic activity in at least four decades, according to a new analysis by a team of Colorado researchers. It was likely caused by the injection of industrial wastewater deep underground—and, the team concluded, quick action taken by scientists, regulators, and industry may well have reduced the risk of of larger quakes in the area.
Putting Science to Work
Using seed grant money from CU, CIRES' WWA is working with Earth Lab to develop workshops and a class on usable science. With usable science, scientists have a better understanding of how their research will be used and the people using the research have their needs addressed. Essentially, it’s more about shaping the research agenda with those who are affected by a particular issue, rather than just handing them the results of a study.
Methane leaks: A new way to find and fix in real time
Researchers have flown aircraft over an oil and gas field and pinpointed—with unprecedented precision—sources of the greenhouse gas methane in real time.
Accounting for Ozone
The first peer-reviewed study to directly quantify how emissions from oil and gas activities influence summertime ozone pollution in the Colorado Front Range confirms that chemical vapors from oil and gas activities are a significant contributor to the region’s chronic ozone problem.
Greenland and the Legacy of Camp Century
Camp Century, a U.S. military base built within the Greenland Ice Sheet in 1959, doubled as a top-secret site for testing the feasibility of deploying nuclear missiles from the Arctic during the Cold War.
Reconstructing Arctic History
There's little doubt that Arctic sea ice is shrinking, but a new study looking back to the 1850s reveals that today's ice loss is unprecedented in extent and rate.
CIRES' Jen Kay Wins NSF Early Career Award
University of Colorado Boulder atmospheric scientist Jennifer Kay has been honored with a prestigious CAREER award from the National Science Foundation, worth more than $800,000
Study: As Alaska Warms, Methane Emissions Appear Stable
Mounting Tension in the Himalaya
During the Gorkha earthquake in Nepal in April 2015, only part of the fault ruptured, below-ground. A new study finds the other part remains locked, accumulating further strain on that segment of the fault.
Milky Way Now Hidden from One-Third of Humanity
The Milky Way, the brilliant river of stars that has dominated the night sky and human imaginations since time immemorial, is just a faded memory for one third of humanity and 80 percent of Americans, according to a new global atlas of light pollution produced by Italian and American scientists.
New Study: Arctic Sea Ice Loss Likely Not a Factor in Recent Northern Hemisphere Cold Winters
Arctic sea ice loss is a major factor behind the warming Arctic, but melting sea ice is probably not behind recent cold winters in parts of Europe, Asia, and the United States, according to new research published in Geophysical Research Letters.
Climate Change’s Likely Role in Kidney Disease Epidemics
Global warming will likely exacerbate epidemics of chronic kidney disease seen recently in hot, rural regions of the world, according to a new assessment by an international team of researchers, including two from the University of Colorado Boulder.
North Dakota’s Bakken Oil and Gas Field Leaking 275,000 Tons of Methane per Year
The Bakken oil and gas field is leaking a lot of methane, but less than some satellites report and less than the latest Environmental Protection Agency inventory for petroleum systems, according to the researchers’ calculations. That's the finding of the first field study measuring emissions of this potent greenhouse gas from the Bakken, which spans parts of North Dakota and Montana. The work was published today in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres.
World’s Shallowest Slow-Motion Earthquakes Detected Offshore of New Zealand
Research published in the May 6 edition of Science indicates that slow-motion earthquakes or “slow-slip events” can rupture the shallow portion of a fault that also moves in large, tsunami-generating earthquakes. The finding has important implications for assessing tsunami hazards. The discovery was made by conducting the first-ever detailed investigation of centimeter-level seafloor movement at an offshore subduction zone.
Making The Instruments That Help Make The Science
The Integrated Instrument Development Facility (IIDF) may be in the basement of the CIRES building, but there’s a whole world of invention and innovation happening down there as a group of instrument designers, glass blowers, electronics experts and machinists design, build and test scientific instruments for CIRES, the chemistry department and the wider CU Boulder community.
Will Droughts Turn the Amazon into a Giant Source of Carbon Emissions?
As climate change increases temperatures and alters rainfall patterns across South America, will Amazonian rainforests shift from a carbon sponge to a carbon source?
One Oil Field a Key Culprit in Global Ethane Gas Increase
A single U.S. shale oil field is responsible for much of the past decade’s increase in global atmospheric levels of ethane, a gas that can damage air quality and impact climate, according to new study led by the University of Michigan, with CIRES and NOAA co-authors.
From The Archives: Crowdsourcing Earth's Magnetic Field
Happy May—Bike to School and Bike to Work days fall in this month! Back in December 2014, we wrote about CrowdMag, a new citizen science effort that has geophysicists asking smart phone users around the world for help mapping Earth’s magnetic field. In honor of spring's cyclists and walkers, who collect terrific magnetic data, we're reposting an adapted version of this earlier story and hoping to get new citizen scientists on board!
Islands Face A Drier Future
In a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, a new way of modeling the effects of climate change on islands shows that previous analyses underestimated the number of islands that would become substantially more arid by mid century–73 percent, up from an estimate of 50 percent. That puts an increasing amount of pressure on millions of humans and vital ecosystems that are both facing the brunt of the effects of climate change and underrepresented in global climate models.
Rethinking Induced Seismicity
A survey of a major oil and natural gas-producing region in Western Canada suggests there may be a link between induced earthquakes and hydraulic fracturing, not just wastewater injection, according to a new report out this week in the journal Seismological Research Letters.
Arctic Sea Ice Maximum
Arctic sea ice was at a record low maximum extent for the second straight year, according to scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado Boulder and NASA.
Antarctica's "Upside-Down Rivers"
“Upside-down rivers” of warm ocean water threaten the stability of floating ice shelves in Antarctica, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder’s National Snow and Ice Data Center published today in Nature Geoscience. The study highlights how parts of Antarctica’s ice sheet may be weakening due to contact with warm ocean water.
Raina Gough Joins NASA’s Mars Rover Science Team
NASA has selected CU Boulder researcher Raina Gough to join the Mars Curiosity rover mission as a participating scientist; she hopes to expand the science team’s search for evidence of liquid water. In the laboratory, Dr. Gough and her colleagues have shown that a process called deliquescence may create briny liquids under conditions likely to exist, in certain times and places, on Mars’ surface.
History On Ice
The American Geophysical Union invited CIRES research associate William Colgan and six team members, including CIRES director Waleed Abdalati, to compile and synthesize decades worth of research on glacier crevasses, to highlight overarching key concepts and new research directions. Their review paper has just been published in Reviews of Geophysics.
When Less Is More
Carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) is an ozone-depleting chemical that's been largely banned for many years. The chemical is still released into the air in fairly small amounts here in the United States, but a new study from CIRES and NOAA reports those rates are still 100 times higher than expected, on average.
2015 California Blowout Led to Largest U.S. Methane Release Ever
First published study since Aliso Canyon well was plugged shows leak was equivalent to one-quarter of Los Angeles’ annual methane pollution
Gijs de Boer Receives Presidential Honor
Boulder’s Gijs de Boer, 36, (pictured above in orange) is one of 106 recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. He is being recognized “for fundamental contributions to the understanding and modeling of Arctic atmosphere."
Where Clouds and Particles Meet Climate
New research from a team of NOAA-led scientists proposes a totally new approach to understanding how tiny particles in the atmosphere and clouds interact—and that understanding those interactions is critical if you want to know how clouds in turn impact climate.
Rapid, Affordable Energy Transformation Possible
The United States could slash greenhouse gas emissions from power production by up to 78 percent below 1990 levels within 15 years while meeting increased demand, according to a new study by NOAA and University of Colorado Boulder researchers.
CU Boulder Team Discovers Surprising Waves in Antarctic Atmosphere
University of Colorado Boulder researchers who have spent thousands of hours observing the atmosphere high above Antarctica have discovered a previously unknown class of wave that ripples constantly through the atmosphere, likely affecting high-level winds, climate, and even Earth-based communications systems.
CIRES scientists are lead authors and co-authors on dozens of papers being presented at the 96th annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society in New Orleans, Louisiana this week. Linked are a few highlights, by day.
Greenland's "Sponge" Affected By Atmospheric Warming
A new study of snow and firn layers high on the Greenland ice sheet shows that recent atmospheric warming is changing the ability of near-surface firn layers to store meltwater, which can result in a faster release of runoff from the ice sheet.
A Dispatch From The Paris Climate Conference: Part Deux
The 2015 Paris Climate Conference (also known as COP21 - the 21st meeting of the conference of parties ) ended with an agreement this past Saturday. Several of our CIRES and NOAA colleagues attended the conference, including Marilyn Averill from the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research and the Getches Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment. Below is a short Q&A with her about the two weeks she spent in Paris.
The data just didn’t seem to make sense. That’s often the story right before scientists make a leap in understanding. In this case, scientists had some evidence that skies in the continental United States have been brightening, after several decades of so-called “dimming.”
NOAA Climate Change Portal Makes IPCC Data More Accessible
The NOAA Climate Change Portal, developed by ESRL’s Physical Sciences Division (PSD) and CIRES, allows researchers to access and display the large volumes of climate and earth system models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for the Fifth Assessment Report.
AGU Fall Meeting
A listing of events and talks during AGU
Cloudy With A Chance of Warming
Clouds can increase warming in the changing Arctic region more than scientists expected, by delivering an unexpected double-whammy to the climate system, according to a new study by researchers at NOAA, the University of Colorado Boulder and colleagues.
Crowdsourcing Old Weather Records Means More Data for Research
A citizen scientist program now in its sixth year, Old Weather asks volunteers to transcribe weather data from 19th century ship logs. The latest project in Old Weather, whaling.oldweather.org, allows you to join a whaling vessel and recover crucial climate data about the Arctic, its weather and sea ice. These data sets are then used to better inform scientific analysis of Earth’s climate and climate change.
A Dispatch From The Paris Climate Conference
With the 2015 Paris climate conference underway, we reached out to CIRES Fellow Max Boykoff (Center for Science and Technology Policy Research and CU Boulder Environmental Studies Program), to learn about the mood at the conference and in Paris.
Antarctic Ozone Hole a Record Low in October
NOAA’s measurements of ozone at South Pole registered a record low for the month of October.
International Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Center Internship
CU Boulder has partnered with the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre (RCRCCC) to place graduate students in locations in eastern and southern Africa each summer. This collaborative program targets improvements in environmental communication and adaptation decision-making as well as disaster prevention and preparedness in the humanitarian sector.
HFC Greenhouse Gases: A Tale of Two (Or More) Futures
A new paper coauthored by researchers in NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory looked at the climate implications of various proposals for future HFC use that are currently being discussed under the United Nations Montreal Protocol, the global agreement that protects the ozone layer.
Some substitutes for ozone-damaging chemicals being phased out worldwide under international agreements are themselves potent greenhouse gases and contribute to warming. Now, a new study in Geophysical Research Letters shows for the first time how some of those replacement chemicals can break down in the atmosphere to form a greenhouse gas that can persist for millennia, much longer than the substitute chemicals themselves.
Less Ice, More Water
By the 2050s, parts of the Arctic Ocean once covered by sea ice much of the year will see at least 60 additional days a year of open water, according to a new modeling study led by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder.
Warming Waters a Major Factor in Gulf of Maine Cod Collapse
For centuries, cod were the backbone of New England’s fisheries and a key species in the Gulf of Maine ecosystem. Today, cod stocks in the gulf are on the verge of collapse, hovering at 3-4 percent of sustainable levels. Even setting tighter limits on fishing has failed to slow this rapid decline. Now a new report in Science concludes that rapid warming of Gulf of Maine waters—faster than in 99 percent of the global ocean—has reduced the capacity of cod to rebound.
CIRES-NOAA Teams Receive 2015 Governor’s Award for High-Impact Research
An innovative weather model used by National Weather Service offices across the country and advances in the field of geomagnetism, including an updated World Magnetic Model and a citizen scientist project, are two of the Colorado-based scientific achievements that will be recognized tonight with the 2015 Governor’s Award for High-Impact Research.
A Flood of Support
In 2013, the torrents of water that poured out of the mountains, ripping up roads and inundating Boulder, Lyons, Longmont and other Front Range communities, also resulted in a deluge of questions. Both the general public and local officials wondered just how unusual this rainfall and flooding had been. Had something like it happened before? Was anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change responsible?
On Christmas Day in 1900, an ornithologist named Frank Chapman started a new tradition. Rather than organizing people to go out and shoot birds on Christmas Day (a longstanding custom) Chapman convinced a small group of people to go out and count them. It was the first year of what has since become known as the annual Christmas Bird Count, an event that’s now in its 115th year and involves over 70,000 volunteers across the western hemisphere.
Arctic Sea Ice Reaches Fourth Lowest Minimum
On September 11, Arctic sea ice reached its likely minimum extent for 2015. The minimum ice extent was the fourth lowest in the satellite record, and reinforces the long-term downward trend in Arctic ice extent.
Breaking Down India’s Monsoon
Inspired by the need to better understand and forecast India’s monsoon rains, CIRES researchers have spent several years dissecting the relationship between El Niño and La Niña and monsoonal rainfall in that country. The conventional wisdom has been that El Niños, characterized by relatively high sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, bring dry times; La Niñas, with cooler equatorial Pacific waters, bring strong monsoon rains. But it’s not so simple, of course.
Southern Ocean Removing CO2 from the Atmosphere More Efficiently
Since 2002, the Southern Ocean has been removing more of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, according to two new studies. These studies, out today in the journals Geophysical Research Letters (GRL) and Science, make use of millions of ship-based observations and a variety of data analysis techniques to conclude that that the Southern Ocean has increasingly taken up CO2 during the last 13 years.
Emissions of Black Carbon from Flaring in the Bakken Oil and Gas Fields
In the lonely reaches of northwestern North Dakota and across the border into Saskatchewan, the vast Bakken oil field hosts extensive activities to extract both crude oil and natural gas. Business is booming—production increased by 30 percent between May 2013 and May 2014. A NOAA-led study looks at the impact of flaring on the atmosphere.
Abdalati to co-lead high-profile effort to set nation’s satellite science agenda
CIRES Director Waleed Abdalati, a professor of geography at the University of Colorado Boulder, will co-chair a prestigious national committee charged with developing U.S. priorities for observing Earth’s atmosphere, oceans and land surfaces by satellite.
NOAA’s Science On a Sphere® Animations Coming to Your Desktop
Today NOAA released a free, downloadable flat screen version of its popular Science On a Sphere® (SOS), SOS ExplorerTM. This new way to display the dynamics of Earth’s weather and climate, plate tectonics and more will help teachers bring these stunning science visualizations, usually found at museums and science centers, into the classroom, where students can learn by exploring.
Better daily sea ice forecasts for the Arctic following CU Boulder-led innovation
Ice experts from the University of Colorado Boulder, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. National Ice Center and other institutions have developed a straightforward new technique for estimating sea ice concentration in the Arctic Ocean, and the new method improves the U.S. Navy’s sea ice forecast by almost 40 percent. With shipping on the rise in the Arctic Ocean, improving these short term forecasts makes navigating in Arctic waters safer.
Home Sweet Microbe: Dust in Your House Can Predict Geographic Region, Gender of Occupants
The humble dust collecting in the average American household harbors a teeming menagerie of bacteria and fungi, and as researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder and North Carolina State University have discovered, it may be able to predict not only the geographic region of a given home, but the gender ratio of the occupants and the presence of a pet as well.
Stratospheric Accomplice for Santa Ana Winds and California Wildfires
Southern Californians and writers love to blame the hot, dry Santa Ana winds for tense, ugly moods, and the winds have long been associated with destructive wildfires. Now, NOAA researchers have found that on occasion, the winds have an accomplice with respect to fires, at least: Atmospheric events known as stratospheric intrusions, which bring extremely dry air from the upper atmosphere down to the surface, adding to the fire danger effects of the Santa Anas, and exacerbating some air pollution episodes.
Measuring Methane Loss in Texas’ Barnett Shale
About 170,000 pounds (76,000 kg) of the greenhouse gas methane leak per hour from the Barnett Shale region of Texas, including the urban areas of Dallas and Fort Worth, according to a new study led by Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and NOAA researchers...
Atmospheric Mysteries Unraveling
It’s been difficult to explain patterns of toxic mercury in some parts of the world, such as why there’s so much of the toxin deposited into ecosystems of the southeastern United States, even upwind of usual sources.
A new analysis led by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder shows that one key to understanding mercury’s strange behavior may be the unexpected reactivity of naturally occurring halogen compounds from the ocean.
Stricter limits for ozone pollution would boost need for science, measurements
The commentary, led by Owen Cooper of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory, looks at how a new, stricter ozone standard would pose challenges for air quality managers at state and local levels.
The ebb and flow of Greenland’s glaciers
In northwestern Greenland, glaciers flow from the main ice sheet to the ocean in see-sawing seasonal patterns. The ice generally flows faster in the summer than in winter, and the ends of glaciers, jutting out into the ocean, also advance and retreat with the seasons.
Colorado’s Biggest Storms Can Happen Anytime, New Study Finds
Recent adjustments to the Montreal Protocol help protect ozone layer
An international agreement in 2007 to deal with the last remaining ozone-depleting chemicals used in large quantities is working, according to a new analysis published today.
New study shows Antarctic ice shelf is thinning from above and below
New study links stratosphere, La Niña and surface air quality
New research reveals a strong connection between high ozone days in the U.S. West during late spring, the stratosphere, and La Niña, an ocean-atmosphere phenomenon that affects global weather patterns.
Ethanol refining may release more of some pollutants than previously thought
Ethanol fuel refineries could be releasing much larger amounts of some ozone-forming compounds into the atmosphere than current assessments suggest, according to a new study that found emissions of these chemicals at a major ethanol fuel refinery are many times higher than government estimates.
Mountains warming faster, scientists report
An international team of scientists is calling for urgent and rigorous monitoring of temperature patterns in mountain regions after compiling evidence that high elevations could be warming faster than previously thought.
Scientists probe methane emission mystery in Four Corners region
A team of scientific investigators is now in the Four Corners region of the U.S. Southwest, aiming to uncover reasons for a mysterious methane hotspot detected from space by a European satellite. The joint project is working to solve the mystery from the air, on the ground, and with mobile laboratories.
A difficult climate: New study examines the media’s response to the IPCC
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) periodically releases Assessment Reports in order to inform policymakers and the public about the latest scientific evidence on climate change. The publication of each report is a key event in the debate about climate change, but their reception and coverage in the media has varied widely.
Studying the air above oil and gas production areas in the U.S. West
Vast regions west of the Mississippi River are under development for oil and gas extraction, and the associated equipment has become a familiar sight on any cross-country road trip or flight. But while one focus is on what comes out of the ground, NOAA and CIRES researchers and their colleagues are studying what escapes to the air—and how it is transformed in the atmosphere and affects air quality and climate.
Why is Denver a mile high?
No one really knows how the High Plains got so high. About 70 million years ago, eastern Colorado, southeastern Wyoming, western Kansas, and western Nebraska were near sea level. Since then, the region rose about 2 kilometers, leading to some head scratching at geology conferences.
Methane leaks from three large U.S. natural gas fields in line with federal estimates
Tens of thousands of pounds of methane leak per hour from equipment in three major natural gas basins that span Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Pennsylvania, according to airborne measurements published today by a NOAA-led team of scientists. But the overall leak rate from those basins is only about one percent of gas production there—lower than leak rates measured in other gas fields, and in line with federal estimates.
Charting Colorado’s Vulnerability to Climate Change
Sea-level rise may not be not eating away at Colorado’s borders, but climate change exposes other critical vulnerabilities in the state, according to a new report. Rising temperatures will likely take a toll on cattle and crops, for example, and could more often leave junior water rights holders with little water and few options.
WINTER 2015: Investigating eastern US air pollution in wintertime
We tend to think of summer as prime time for pollution—picture the haze that hangs over big cities on hot, steamy days. That's when increased sunlight and temperatures speed up chemical reactions that transform pollutants in the air into other "secondary" pollutants, including ozone, particulate matter, and others. But pollution doesn't cease at summer's end. Instead, the pathways to these familiar summertime pollutants are altered in ways that haven't been well studied and that therefore aren't well understood.
Erratic as normal - Arctic sea ice loss expected to be bumpy in the short term
Arctic sea ice extent plunged precipitously from 2001 to 2007, then barely budged between 2007 and 2013. Even in a warming world, researchers should expect such unusual periods of no change—and rapid change—at the world’s northern reaches, according to a new paper.
Forecasting and explaining bad air days in Utah’s oil and gas fields
To accurately forecast wintertime bad air days in Utah’s Uintah Basin, researchers must use real atmospheric measurements to estimate chemical emissions from nearby oil and natural gas fields, a new study in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics has found. When a team of researchers, including those from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) and NOAA, fed an air quality model with emissions estimated instead from national and state inventories, they couldn’t reproduce those bad air days.
Arctic sea ice loss not a major factor in weather extremes in the lower latitudes
There's no doubt that Arctic sea ice is melting. However, new research finds little evidence supporting the idea that Arctic sea ice loss is a major factor behind weather extremes at lower latitudes. Research published in the Journal of Climate finds that sea ice loss accounts for only a small percentage of the warming in the Arctic atmosphere that has been suggested to affect weather at lower latitudes.
Surprising findings in Greenland’s melt dynamics
A combination of new tools and old photographs are giving scientists a better view of Greenland’s ice, and recent discoveries promise to improve forecasts of the region’s future in a warmer world. Overall, the findings show Greenland's ice is vulnerable to periods of rapid change including vicious cycles of warming promoting further warming.
Crowdsourcing Earth's magnetic field
San Francisco, California—In a major citizen science effort, geophysicists are asking smart phone users around the world for help mapping Earth’s magnetic field.
Powdered measles vaccine safe
A measles vaccine made of fine dry powder and delivered with a puff of air triggered no adverse side effects in early human testing and it is likely effective, according to a paper to be published November 28 in the journal Vaccine. The paper is now available online.
New Book: The Rightful Place of Science: Disasters and Climate Change by Roger Pielke Jr.
Politicians and others often overstate the role of climate change in the growing toll of natural disasters, according to a new book by Roger Pielke Jr.: The Rightful Place of Science: Disasters and Climate Change.
Errors in climate science may hide real risks
Understating the effects of climate change could be as costly and dangerous to human well-being and economics as overstating the impacts, according to the authors of a new analysis published today in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.
Remapping The New Jersey Coast After Hurricane Sandy
Two years ago, Hurricane Sandy made landfall along the U.S. East Coast, and the storm’s strong winds and waves altered the shoreline and the seafloor. Suddenly, our coastal elevation models were no longer accurate. Now, federal and CIRES researchers from NOAA’s National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) in Boulder, Colorado, are updating detailed elevation models of the coast, above and below the waterline, in areas transformed by Hurricane Sandy, from the Delaware Bay to the Eastern tip of Long Island. First up is the New Jersey coast.
New study pinpoints major sources of air pollutants from oil and gas operations in Utah
Oil and natural gas production fields can emit large amounts of air pollutants that affect climate and air quality—but tackling the issue has been difficult because little is known about what aspects of complex production operations leak what kinds of pollutants, and how much. Now a CIRES-led study in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics sheds light on just that, pinpointing sources of airborne pollutants.
New study explains wintertime ozone pollution in Utah oil and gas fields
Chemicals released into the air by oil and gas exploration, extraction and related activities can spark reactions that lead to high levels of ozone in wintertime, high enough to exceed federal health standards, according to new NOAA-led research, published today in Nature.
Climate Change Not To Blame For 2013 Colorado Floods
Last September’s widespread flooding in northeast Colorado, which saw just over 17 inches of rain in one week in the city of Boulder, was not made more likely or more intense by the effects of human-induced climate change, according to a new NOAA-led study published today in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.
Ozone Layer On Road To Recovery?
Nimbus data rescue
In 1964, the Beatles took the world by storm, Lyndon Johnson won his second term as President—and NASA launched the first of seven Nimbus spacecraft to study Earth from space.
Air from stratosphere makes it tough for Las Vegas to meet surface ozone pollution standards
In Las Vegas, air from the naturally ozone-rich stratosphere is sometimes an unwelcome intruder, making it difficult for the region to meet the national ground-level ozone standards in the springtime, according to a new NOAA-led study published online this month in the journal Atmospheric Environment.
New report highlights how climate change may affect water in Colorado
Science of Smog
Every summer along Colorado’s Front Range, ozone pollution periodically spikes to unhealthy levels, despite federal and state efforts to control the lung-damaging chemical. Cars are running cleaner, and power plants are emitting fewer pollutants, so why does ozone still regularly soar above health-based limits?
Airborne measurements confirm leaks from oil and gas operations
During two days of intensive airborne measurements, oil and gas operations in Colorado’s Front Range leaked nearly three times as much methane, a greenhouse gas, as predicted based on inventory estimates, and seven times as much benzene, a regulated air toxic. Emissions of other chemicals that contribute to summertime ozone pollution were about twice as high as estimates, according to the new paper, accepted for publication in the American Geophysical Union’s Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres.
Common factors behind Greenland melt episodes in 2012, 1889
Climate Considerations on Navajo Lands
Serving up climate data in usable formats
When a city’s transportation infrastructure needs work, city planners can’t just look at yesterday’s traffic figures—they need to take into account long-term trends: How are driving patterns changing? Roads and mass transit projects last for decades, after all.
Measuring wind with microphones
To many who live along the road, the roar of traffic on the Diagonal Highway between Boulder and Longmont, Colo. is nothing but a nuisance. But to a small team of physicists in Boulder, the noise proved inspirational. The group, led by Oleg Godin of CIRES, used the traffic noise on “The Diagonal” to accurately measure wind speed. The scientists reported the proof-of-concept study this month in the Journal of the Acoustic Society of America Express Letters.
Amazonian Drought Conditions Add Carbon Dioxide to the Atmosphere
As climates change, the lush tropical ecosystems of the Amazon Basin may release more of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than they absorb, according to a new study published Feb. 6 in Nature.
New study: U.S. power plant emissions down
Power plants that use natural gas and a new technology to squeeze more energy from the fuel release far less of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide than coal-fired power plants do, according to a new analysis accepted for publication Jan. 8 in the journal Earth’s Future, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. The so-called “combined cycle” natural gas power plants also release significantly less nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide, which can worsen air quality.
New study: Dust, warming portend dry future for the Colorado River
Reducing the amount of desert dust swept onto snowy Rocky Mountain peaks could help Western water managers deal with the challenges of a warmer future, according to a new study led by researchers at NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado Boulder.
Sensitivity study helps the city, others in the Intermountain West, plan for the future
In an example of the challenges water-strapped Western cities will face in a warming world, new research shows that every degree Fahrenheit of warming in the Salt Lake City region could mean a 1.8 to 6.5 percent drop in the annual flow of streams that provide water to the city.
CU Boulder-led team takes first look at diverse life below rare tallgrass prairies
Encouraging information from this year’s observations of the ozone hole
For nearly 50 years, scientists with NOAA have launched high-altitude balloons from the South Pole, to understand why a hole was forming in the protective ozone layer high in the atmosphere. Now, organizations around the world track the infamous ozone hole through these ballon-sondes, satellite measurements and ground instruments.
Water vapor in the upper atmosphere amplifies global warming, says new study
A new study shows that water vapor high in the sky and the temperature at the Earth‘s surface are linked in a “feedback loop” that further warms our climate. Published today, this study gives the first estimate of the size of the feedback‘s effect, which may help researchers improve modeling to better understand climate change.
Today’s worst watershed stresses may become the new normal, study finds
Nearly one in 10 U.S. watersheds is “stressed,” with demand for water exceeding natural supply, according to a new analysis of surface water in the United States. What’s more, the lowest water flow seasons of recent years—times of great stress on rivers, streams, and sectors that use their waters—are likely to become typical as climates continue to warm.
Life and lasers in Antarctica: Faces behind the balaclavas
Four months of darkness, minus-30-degree temperatures, 40-mile-per-hour winds—just another day at the lab for the Chu Research Group. The lab just happens to be at McMurdo Station in Antarctica, where CIRES Fellow Xinzhao Chu and her team spend many months every year studying the polar atmosphere. Using remote-sensing technology called lidar (light detection and ranging), they use laser light to analyze the middle and upper atmosphere. Their research is shedding light on the planet’s weather patterns, climate processes, and even the fertilization of life on Earth with essential minerals, such as iron.
Soot suspect in mid-1800s Alps glacier retreat
Scientists have uncovered strong evidence that soot, or black carbon, sent into the air by a rapidly industrializing Europe, likely caused the abrupt retreat of mountain glaciers in the European Alps.
Earth is breathing deeper
Levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rise and fall annually as plants take up the gas in spring and summer and release it in fall and winter through photosynthesis and respiration. Now the range of that cycle is growing as more CO2 is emitted from the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities, according to a study published in Science by Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, with CIRES and NOAA co-authors.
CIRES scientists contribute to international 2012 climate summary
The Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society has published the 2012 State of the Climate report, which provides a detailed update on global climate indicators and notable weather events. Seven scientists from CIRES, the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder, and many others from NOAA contributed to this year’s report, which documented 2012 ranking as one of the top 10 warmest years on record for the globe.
CIRES, NOAA observe significant methane leaks in a Utah natural gas field
On a perfect winter day in Utah’s Uintah County in 2012, CIRES scientists and NOAA colleagues tested out a new way to measure methane emissions from a natural gas production field. Their results, accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, constitute a proof-of-concept that could help both researchers and regulators better determine how much of the greenhouse gas and other air pollutants leak from oil and gas fields. The measurements show that on one February day in the Uintah Basin, the natural gas field leaked 6 to 12 percent of the methane produced, on average, on February days.
NOAA: Greenhouse gases continue climbing
NOAA’s updated Annual Greenhouse Gas Index (AGGI), which measures the direct climate influence of many heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide and methane, shows 2012 continued the steady upward trend that began with the Industrial Revolution of the 1880s.
Asteroid impact that killed dinosaurs spared freshwater species
The natural biological resilience of freshwater species likely spared them from the otherwise devastating effects of the Chicxulub asteroid impact 66 million years ago, which had caused massive extinction in terrestrial and marine environments.
Like butter: Study explains surprising acceleration of Greenland’s inland ice
New CIRES Director: Waleed Abdalati
The Council of Fellows and University of Colorado Boulder have selected Waleed Abdalati, Ph.D., as the new director of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). Abdalati currently is a CIRES Fellow, professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Colorado Boulder and director of the CIRES Earth Science and Observation Center (ESOC). He will take office July 1, 2013.
Clearing up confusion about the future of Colorado River flows
The Colorado River provides water for more than 30 million people in the U.S. West, so water managers have been eager to understand how climate change will affect the river’s flow. But scientific studies have produced an unsettling range of estimates, from a modest decrease of 6 percent by 2050 to a steep drop of 45 percent by then.
CIRES, NOAA team leads investigation of Southeast air quality, climate questions
Many photographs of the Southeast’s Smoky Mountains show layers of tall hills, shading to purples and grays in the distance. Tiny particles in the atmosphere help create the effect, which makes for stunning pictures. But human-caused enhancements of those fine particles also contribute to poor air quality in the Southeastern U.S., and may help explain why the region has not warmed like the rest of the nation.
Los Angeles air pollution declining, losing its sting
The cleanup of California’s tailpipe emissions over the last few decades has not only reduced ozone pollution in the Los Angeles area. It has also altered the pollution chemistry in the atmosphere, making the eye-stinging “organic nitrate” component of air pollution plummet, according to a new study led by a scientist from NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado Boulder.
Sea ice and weather: Loss of sea ice affects Arctic weather patterns
In 2007 when the extent of floating sea ice in the Arctic was at a record low, how did the resulting large expanses of open water affect regional weather patterns? That's what CIRES researcher Elizabeth Cassano and her colleagues sought to understand in a modeling and observations study published this week. The team found that as sea ice disappeared, the areas of relatively warm open water began to strongly influence the atmosphere, increasing surface temperatures in the region, and shifting low- and high-pressure zones around most markedly in the fall and winter.
Mystery solved: Previously unexplained higher levels of greenhouse gas in L.A. from fossil-fuel sources
The missing link—exactly where the extra methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, is coming from in Los Angeles—has finally been identified, according to a study led by a scientist at NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). The research explains why the estimates of methane given off by various sources are 35 percent lower than the levels that have actually been measured in the atmosphere by scientists.
End of an era: Northern Hemisphere losing its last dry-snow region
Last July, something unprecedented in the 34-year satellite record happened: 98 percent of the Greenland Ice Sheet’s surface melted, compared to roughly 50 percent during an average summer. Snow that usually stays frozen and dry turned wet with meltwater. Now, new research led by the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) shows that last summer’s extreme melt could soon be the new normal.
The origins of cirrus: Earth’s highest clouds have dusty core
The thin, wispy clouds known as “cirrus” cover nearly a third of the globe and are found high in the atmosphere—5 to 10 miles above the surface. But a new study shows that they typically have a very down-to-earth core, consisting of dust and metallic particles.
New Book Release: CIRES Researchers Contribute to Analysis of Southwest’s Climate Future
In an era of increasing climate instability, the southwestern United States faces strained water resources, greater prevalence of tree-killing pests, and potentially significant alterations of agricultural infrastructure. These threats and challenges as well as others are detailed in the new book, “Assessment of Climate Change in the Southwest United States.”
First independent confirmation of global land warming
A unique and innovative new observational study that did not use temperature recordings from land stations has confirmed global land warming, according to a scientist at NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). The finding refutes concerns that artifacts in land-based observing systems have led to an artificial global land warming trend.
Pace of Change Quickens as Climate Warms
As the planet warms, not only do Earth’s climate zones keep shifting—they actually shift at an accelerating pace, according to a new study led by a scientist at NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). This acceleration of change means that the species inhabiting each zone have less time to adapt to the climatic changes.
Thin, low Arctic clouds played an important role in the massive 2012 Greenland ice melt
Clouds over the central Greenland Ice Sheet last July were “just right” for driving surface temperatures there above the melting point, according to a new study by a team of scientists including a scientist at NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). The study, published today in Nature, found that thin, low-lying clouds allowed the sun’s energy to pass through and warm the surface of the ice, while at the same time trapping heat near the surface of the ice cap. This combination played a significant role in last summer's record-breaking melt.
‘Chasing Ice’ filmmaker to discuss his gripping glacial photography and debut unseen footage at Macky Auditorium April 1
Filmmaker and adventurer James Balog will share his stirring and beautiful glacial photography revealing changes in climate at a free event at 7 p.m., Monday, April 1 in the University of Colorado Boulder’s Macky Auditorium.
Origin of Life: Essential Step in Chemistry Unraveled
While scientists believe that water is necessary for the emergence of life on a planet, new findings suggest the water surface may play a more integral role, according to researchers at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). These scientists have demonstrated that the interface between water and air provides a site for the formation of simple proteins called peptides, one of the key building blocks for life.
High and Dry—Probing Greenland’s Atmosphere and Clouds
Playing key roles in the U.S. Arctic Observing Network (AON) and the International Arctic Systems for Observing the Atmosphere (IASOA) network, ICECAPS is a collaborative project between the universities of Colorado, Idaho, and Wisconsin, with substantial support from the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Energy, and Environment Canada.
George C. Reid Endowed Scholarship Fund Established
The University of Colorado Foundation has announced the creation of the George C. Reid Endowed Scholarship Fund for the benefit of CIRES in the Graduate School at the University of Colorado Boulder. A generous gift from Joan Reid, George’s spouse, will fund the perpetual endowment. The scholarship will be awarded to support graduate students’ education, and financial need and merit may both be used as criteria in selection of recipients. This marks the first perpetual endowment CIRES has received through the CU Foundation.
Sizing up black carbon in snow
The scientists identified several mechanisms that could explain how the black carbon particles end up larger when they are in the snow, including smaller particles sticking together in the air; larger particles being more likely to be deposited in snow; and larger particles being formed in fallen snow that undergoes temperature fluctuations. However, they hypothesize that more complex interactions of the black carbon and snowflakes could be also be involved, likely as the snow is forming in the atmosphere. The size of the black carbon in snow contains a “fingerprint” of these interactions, providing hope that it can help improve scientists’ understanding of how the particles are removed from the air.
Volcanic aerosols, not pollutants, tamped down recent Earth warming
In the search for clues as to why Earth did not warm as much as scientists expected between 2000 and 2010, researchers have discovered the answer is hiding in plain sight. The study, led by a scientist from NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), showed that dozens of volcanoes spewing sulfur dioxide have tempered the warming.
High Levels of Air-Cleansing Compound Discovered Over Ocean
Researchers have detected the presence of a pollutant-destroying compound—iodine monoxide (IO)—in surprisingly high levels high above the tropical ocean, according to a new study led by the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES).
Western Water Assessment Receives RISA Award
NOAA announced seven multi-year awards totaling $600,000 to Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) research teams—including CIRES Western Water Assessment—to encourage collaboration with federal and non-federal partners on climate adaptation.
Black carbon is much larger cause of climate change than previously assessed
WASHINGTON—Black carbon is the second largest man-made contributor to global warming and its influence on climate has been greatly underestimated, according to the first quantitative and comprehensive analysis of this pollutant’s climate impact.
Oil and Gas Wells Contribute Fuel for Ozone Pollution
Emissions from oil and natural gas operations north of Denver could add to ozone pollution in that region, according to a new study by researchers at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES).
TweetChat: Ask CIRES experts about air-quality impacts of oil and gas operations
Emissions from oil and natural gas operations north of Denver could add to ozone pollution in that region, according to a new study by researchers at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). The study was published online Jan. 14 in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.
Media Advisory: Highlights of CIRES science at AMS
Scientists from the NOAA Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado will present new research at next week’s 93rd American Meteorological Society (AMS) Meeting in Austin, Texas.
Ozone Pollution Leveling Off Worldwide
In what scientists are calling a success story for air-quality controls, levels of ozone pollution, which have been increasing since the beginning of the 19th century, appear to now be flattening out worldwide, according to a new study led by a researcher at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES).
Alaska’s iconic Columbia Glacier expected to stop retreating in 2020, says CU Boulder study
The wild and dramatic cascade of ice into the ocean from Alaska’s Columbia Glacier, an iconic glacier featured in the documentary “Chasing Ice” and one of the fastest moving glaciers in the world, will cease around 2020, according to a study by the University of Colorado Boulder.
Direct Evidence of Summer Climate Change
That summers “just aren’t what they used to be” no longer seems to be the wistful chant of the world weary looking back on their salad days: Analysis of 90 years of observational data has revealed that summer climates in regions across the globe are changing—mostly, but not always, warming—according to a new study led by a scientist from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES).
CIRES/NOAA models on track toward prediction of storms
While Sandy swept across the North East, CIRES Fellow Stan Benjamin and CIRES scientist Curtis Alexander compare and contrast the “Superstorm’s” path with the output of the Flow-following finite-volume Icosahedral Model (FIM). This is the same model that has been involved in the experimental forecasting for NOAA’s Hurricane Forecasting Improvement Project.
Peeping at Polynyas
Polynyas—expanses of open water in the Antarctic Ocean surrounded by ice or land—might not spur the interest of polar bears, penguins or even most people but en masse they do have the capacity to impact atmospheric and climatic conditions in the southern polar region.
CIRES scientists receive award for Gulf oil spill research
A team of scientists from CIRES and NOAA will receive the governor of Colorado's Award for High-Impact Research, for discoveries made during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill crisis.
NOAA selects CU Boulder to continue joint leadership of CIRES
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has selected the University of Colorado Boulder to continue a federal/academic partnership that extends NOAA’s ability to study climate change, improve weather models and better predict how solar storms can disrupt communication and navigation technologies.
Wildfires: The Heat is On
When the Fourmile Canyon fire erupted west of Boulder, Colo. in 2010, smoke from the wildfire poured into parts of the city including the site of the David Skaggs Research Center, which houses scientists from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) and NOAA.
Airborne Ethanol on the Rise
Ethanol, now used commonly in U.S. transportation fuels, is turning up in urban air at more than six times the levels measured a decade ago, according to a new study led by scientists at the Cooperative Institute of Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) and NOAA. The research team found no discernible impact of increased ethanol on air quality.
50-year decline in some Los Angeles vehicle-related pollutants
In California’s Los Angeles Basin, levels of some vehicle-related air pollutants have decreased by about 98 percent since the 1960s, even as area residents now burn three times as much gasoline and diesel fuel. Between 2002 and 2010 alone, the concentration of air pollutants called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) dropped by half, according to a new study by CIRES and NOAA scientists.
Earth still absorbing carbon dioxide even as emissions rise
Despite sharp increases in carbon dioxide emissions by humans in recent decades that are warming the planet, Earth’s vegetation and oceans continue to soak up about half of them, according to a surprising a new study conducted by scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder, CIRES and NOAA.
CIRES Scientists Earn Presidential Honor
The White House today named CIRES scientists David Noone and Rebecca Washenfelder as recipients of the 2011 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). The PECASE award is the highest honor given by the U.S. government to outstanding scientists and engineers in the early stages of their careers.
Emperor penguins threatened by Antarctic sea ice loss
A decline in the population of emperor penguins appears likely this century as climate change reduces the extent of Antarctic sea ice, according to a detailed projection published this week.
A sea change in the Arctic atmosphere
Arctic warming has thinned the blanket of sea ice that stretches across the Arctic Ocean in springtime and a study led by a scientist from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) shows that this change is altering the chemistry of the atmosphere at ground level in the region. Those atmospheric changes may, in turn, be increasing the amount of toxic mercury contaminating the region.
Near-term weather forecasts get powerful boost from new computer model
Starting today, a sophisticated new weather forecast computer model developed by scientists from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) and NOAA will help improve predictions of quickly developing severe weather events such as thunderstorms, winter storms and dangerous air turbulence.
Smoking out an air pollutant's hot spots
A smoke-related chemical, isocyanic acid, may be a significant air pollutant in some parts of the world, especially where forest fires and other forms of biomass burning are common, according to new research by Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) scientists and colleagues.
New monitoring system clarifies murky atmospheric questions
Scientists from CIRES and the University of Colorado Boulder have developed a new monitoring system to analyze and compare emissions from man-made fossil fuels and trace gases in the atmosphere, a technique that likely could be used to monitor the effectiveness of measures regulating greenhouse gases.
Greenland Ice Sheet Flushing Itself Away?
Like snow sliding off a roof on a sunny day, the Greenland Ice Sheet may be sliding faster into the ocean due to massive releases of meltwater from surface lakes, according to a new study from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) and the University of Colorado Boulder (CU). Such lake drainages may affect sea-level rise, with implications for coastal communities.
Gasoline worse than diesel when it comes to some types of air pollution
The exhaust fumes from gasoline vehicles contribute more to the production of a specific type of air pollution-secondary organic aerosols (SOA)-than those from diesel vehicles, according to a new study by scientists from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) and other colleagues.
Colorado oil and gas wells emit more pollutants than expected
When scientists from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) and NOAA began routinely monitoring the atmosphere’s composition at a tower north of Denver a few years ago, their instruments immediately sniffed something strange: plumes of air rich with chemical pollutants, including the potent greenhouse gas methane.
In the hunt to track down climate-altering gases it isn’t enough just to stick to dry land. With oceans covering 70% of Earth getting wet feet is a necessity, says Rainer Volkamer, a CU assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry and fellow at the Cooperative Institute of Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES).
CIRES Researchers Presenting at the 2012 AMS meeting
Earthquake potential in Colorado and New Mexico
The Rio Grande Rift—the north-trending continental rift zone that extends from Colorado’s central Rocky Mountains to Mexico—is not dead but geologically alive and active, according to a new study by scientists at the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Environmental Sciences (CIRES) in collaboration with the University of New Mexico, New Mexico Tech, Utah State University, and UNAVCO.
Chemical measurements confirm official estimate of Gulf oil spill rate
By combining detailed chemical measurements in the deep ocean, in the oil slick, and in the air, scientists from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), NOAA and other academic institutes have independently estimated how fast gases and oil were leaking during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Colorado mountain hail may disappear in a warmer future
Summertime hail could all but disappear from the eastern flank of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains by 2070, according to a new modeling study by scientists from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), NOAA and several other institutions.
Gulf Oil Spill releases a "city's worth" of pollution into the air
The amount of air pollutants in the atmospheric plume generated by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill was similar to those generated by a large city according to a new study led by scientists at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and NOAA.
CIRES Director named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
CIRES Director Konrad Steffen has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
NSIDC Receives Award for Green Data Center Design
The Green Data Center Team at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), part of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado Boulder, has received the Colorado 2011 Governor's Award for High-Impact Research. The team was recognized for its innovative data center redesign that slashed energy consumption for data center cooling by more than 90%, demonstrating how other data centers and the technology industry can save energy and reduce carbon emissions.
Bright City Lights Affect Air Pollution
The sky glow that radiates from cities at night does more than obscure the stars—it also impacts daytime air pollution levels, according to new research from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES).
Climate change major factor in more frequent Mediterranean droughts
Wintertime droughts are increasingly common in the Mediterranean region, and human-caused climate change is partly the cause, according to a new analysis by scientists at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) and colleagues at NOAA. In the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, 10 of the driest 12 winters since 1902 have struck in just the last 20 years.
El Niño: Unaffected by climate change in the 21st century but its impacts may be more severe
While climate change will not modify the extent or frequency of El Niño variability in the next 100 years, the environmental consequences of such events may become more extreme, according to a new collaborative study between scientists at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).
CIRES scientist available to discuss Antarctic ozone hole recovery paper
The annual hole in the Antarctic ozone layer could show initial signs of recovery within 10 years, according to a new analysis of 25 years of data collected by scientists from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) and NOAA at the South Pole.
Gulf spill fires released more than one million pounds of sooty black carbon into the atmosphere
The black smoke that rose from the water’s surface during controlled burns of surface oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill last year pumped more than one million pounds of black carbon (soot) pollution into the atmosphere, according to a new study published online this week by researchers at Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) and NOAA.
Increased crevasse extent in Greenland may dampen ice sheet sliding
The area covered by crevasses northeast of Ilulissat, West Greenland, has expanded by 13 percent over the last 24 years, according to scientists at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES)—a change that may impact the sliding of the Greenland Ice Sheet and subsequent sea level rise.
CIRES provides venue for worldwide climate event
A multimedia presentation — created by Gore, Nobel Laureate and former Vice President of the United States, and delivered by a presenter trained by Gore — was broadcast live online as part of the “24 Hours of Reality” project. The presentation told the stories of local people living with the impacts of a changing climate. Similar presentations screened each hour over 24 hours from twenty-four locations across the globe—such as New York, London, Mexico City, Jakarta and Tonga.
CIRES scientists presenting at the American Chemical Society meeting
CIRES researchers from several divisions are attending the 242nd American Chemical Society National Meeting in Denver, Aug. 28–Sept. 1. The scientists, including four CIRES Fellows—Lisa Dilling, Jose-Luis Jimenez, Ted Scambos and Margaret Tolbert —will present their novel research results at the conference themed ‘Chemistry of Air, Space and Water.’
CIRES Expert Available to Talk About Colorado/Washington, D.C. Earthquakes
Bacteria from dog feces pervades winter air of urbanized areas
Bacteria from fecal material—in particular, dog fecal material—may constitute the dominant source of airborne bacteria in Cleveland’s and Detroit’s wintertime air, says a new study led by researchers from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES).
Clouds, Rain, Eat, Prey
What do a herd of gazelles and a fluffy mass of clouds have in common? A mathematical formula developed by scientists from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) and Israel’s Weizmann Institute links these seemingly disparate entities.
CIRES hosts National Climate Assessment Southwest workshop
Experts, including scientists from universities and federal agencies, from throughout the vast Southwest region convened this week at CIRES to begin writing the Southwest Region Technical Report for the National Climate Assessment (NCA).
Slowing climate change by targeting gases other than carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide remains the undisputed king of climate change, but other greenhouse gases measurably contribute to the problem, says a new study conducted by scientists from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The study, published August 3 in Nature, shows that cutting emissions of those other gases could slow changes in climate that are expected in the future.
Increase in particles high in Earth’s atmosphere has offset some recent climate warming
A recent increase in the abundance of particles high in the atmosphere has offset about a third of the current climate warming influence of carbon dioxide (CO2) change during the past decade, according to a new study led by Susan Solomon, a Fellow with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado Boulder. The study was published July 21 in the online edition of Science. In the stratosphere, miles above Earth’s surface, small, airborne particles reflect sunlight back into space, which leads to a cooling influence at the ground. These particles are also called “aerosols," and the new paper explores their recent climate effects—the reasons behind their increase remain the subject of ongoing research.
New study details glacier ice loss following ice shelf collapse
An international team of researchers has combined data from multiple sources to provide the clearest account yet of how much glacial ice surges into the sea following the collapse of Antarctic ice shelves.
CIRES Graduate Student wins first prize at CEDAR workshop
Chihiko Yamashita, a CIRES graduate student, won the student poster competition at the 26th CEDAR (Coupling, Energetics and Dynamics and Atmospheric Regions) workshop held June 26-July 1. Yamashita’s poster was titled “Physical Mechanisms of Gravity Wave Variations and Their Impacts on the MLT (mesosphere and lower thermosphere) during the 2009 Stratospheric Sudden Warming.” Coauthor, CIRES Fellow Xinzhao Chu, advises Yamahita in her graduate research.
Ice loss fattening the Earth
The Earth is getting thicker around the middle due to ice loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, says a new study by researchers from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado Boulder.
Newly-detected chemical in smoke may have serious health implications, says study
Cigarette smoking, burning forests and even cooking fires all release a chemical — not previously known to exist in smoke in significant quantities — that may have potential health impacts, according to a new study by scientists at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) and the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory.
In the Wake of the Wind Turbine
On the southern edge of Boulder County, Colo., Eldorado Canyon carves a gap through the Rocky Mountains. The canyon funnels prevailing winds, which sweep east over the mountains, smack into the National Wind Technology Center.
Vaida receives two awards for research excellence in spectroscopy
CIRES Fellow Veronica Vaida is one of only four University of Colorado Boulder faculty members to receive a Boulder Faculty Assembly Spring 2011 Excellence Award for distinction in "Research, Scholarly and Creative Work."
CIRES scientist investigates Japanese quake
Less than three days after a 9-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Japan on March 11, geologist Roger Bilham, a fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), was on a plane to Japan with the NOVA team to investigate the science behind the disaster and its scientific impacts.
Scientists Use Airborne Chemistry Measurements for the First Time to Assess Flow Rate, Fate of Spilled Gases and Oil During Gulf Oil Spill
Scientists from NOAA and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) found a way to use air chemistry measurements taken hundreds of feet above last year’s BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill to estimate how fast gases and oil were leaking from the reservoir thousands of feet underwater. The scientists also determined the fate of most of those gas and oil compounds using atmospheric chemistry data collected from the NOAA WP-3D research aircraft overflights in June. The study, accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, a publication of the American Geophysical Union, is in press.
Insights from Oil Spill Air Pollution Study have Implications Beyond the Gulf
When a team of researchers from NOAA and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) raced to the scene of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill to assess the disaster’s impact on air quality, they found more than they expected. A significant fraction of the oil that surfaced had evaporated. Also, measurements taken onboard the NOAA WP-3D aircraft revealed that organic aerosols – a form of air pollution – formed from the oil vapors. Aside from the common culprits that create organic aerosols, the researchers discovered a new set of chemicals that contribute to diminished air quality – chemicals that also exist in urban environments.
Natural Variability Main Culprit of Deadly Russian Heat Wave That Killed Thousands
The deadly Russian heat wave of 2010 was due to a natural atmospheric phenomenon often associated with weather extremes, according to a new study by scientists at NOAA and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). And while the scientists could not attribute the intensity of this particular heat wave to climate change, they found that extreme heat waves are likely to become increasingly frequent in the region in coming decades.
Scientists Using Erie Tower to Study Wintertime Air Chemistry
Scientists with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder (CIRES), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and colleagues from across the country have gathered in Erie, Colo., for a month-long study of the chemistry of the wintertime atmosphere, which they hope will shed light on some scientific mysteries.
New insights on the origin of the Rockies
The formation of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado has always puzzled scientists. Some 600 miles inland and far removed from the nearest tectonic plate, the only comparable inland mountain range is the Himalaya, which scientists deduced were formed by the collision of the Indian plate with the Eurasian plate.
CIRES expert available to discuss space weather events and forecasts
With a series of major solar flares in the last few days, the sun is clearly waking up from several years of relative quiet. Activities on the sun’s surface — tracked and forecast by NOAA satellites and NOAA and CIRES scientists — can blast Earth with magnetic events that can damage the electrical grid and temporarily damage radio and satellite telecommunications. Space weather can also trigger spectacular aurora. Recent flares and other solar events are the strongest seen in four years.
Thawing permafrost will accelerate global warming in decades to come, says new study
One- to two-thirds of Earth’s permafrost will disappear by 2200, unleashing vast quantities of carbon into the atmosphere, says a study by researchers at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).