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.
Every February or March, Arctic sea ice extent reaches its seasonal maximum and begins to break back up again as the sun returns and temperatures warm. This year, that maximum extent was the lowest in the satellite record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (part of CIRES).
How has the scarcity of water in the American West resulted in so much controversy? A free online course offered beginning April 1 by experts at the University of Colorado Boulder will answer that question and take students on a virtual journey, following water as it makes its way from snow-capped peaks to the taps in the drier valleys across the Western United States.
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.
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.
There is no substitute for dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate the negative consequences of climate change, a National Research Council committee including CIRES director Waleed Abdalati concluded in a two-volume evaluation of proposed climate-intervention ("geoengineering") techniques.
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.
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.
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.