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3 December 2010
Ask a Climate Scientist – Answers from AGU Researchers
Australian journalist Amber Jamieson thought AGU’s Climate Q&A Service, which re-launched in October to provide journalists quick responses from scientists to questions about climate change, provided a great, but under-used opportunity. So she solicited questions from readers of her blog, Rooted, and sent them to AGU’s climate scientists for answers. She posted the responses on her site.
This is the first of a series of posts with those questions and answers.
28 October 2010
Beaches can harbor hidden oil long after spills
Crude oil from a spill can remain trapped for decades under a beach’s surface. A 2001 survey of beaches along Alaska’s Prince William Sound estimated that about 100 tons of oil from the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill remained in the beaches’ lower layers, and much of it is still there, researchers say. A new study of one of those beaches found that the reason the oil becomes trapped in the …
5 October 2010
Climate Change Worsens Air Quality
Climate change will exacerbate air quality problems, says Jeffrey Stehr, atmospheric scientist at the University of Maryland, by increasing heat that causes some pollutants to form, and changing air circulation patterns. He says researchers from different disciplines have begun collaborating more to understand better what these long-term changes will bring. Stehr spoke with AGU after a Congressional briefing co-hosted by the US EPA and AGU on Sept. 28, 2010 that …
24 September 2010
Can we limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius?
Members of the United Nations are in growing agreement that to avoid the worst affects of climate change, the world will need to limit the rise in global average temperature to 2 degrees Celsius. What will it take to meet that target? The AVOID Programme was started in the United Kingdom to provide policy-makers with answers to questions like this and others about climate change. Scientists from the Met Office …
23 September 2010
Dangerous dependence on virtual water deepens
The rate of global groundwater depletion has been on the rise, warning of a potential disaster for an increasingly globalized agricultural system says Marc Bierkens of Utrecht University in Utrecht, the Netherlands. In an upcoming study, Bierkens and his colleagues find that not only is global groundwater extraction outstripping its natural recharge rate, this disparity has been increasing. Groundwater represents about 30 percent of the available fresh water on the …
10 September 2010
Sudden climate shifts can occur without warning
Earth’s climate is jumpy. Tens of thousands of years ago, the planet suffered more than two dozen episodes of abrupt warming, with global temperatures soaring by as much as a few degrees Celsius in as little as a decade. Many scientists are worried that an abrupt climate change could happen again, and that by continuing to emit increasing amounts of greenhouse gases, people may be increasing the risk of the …
2 September 2010
Should Mother Nature have to sign the Copenhagen Accord?
Carbon dioxide releases by hurricanes are significant, but offset by ocean cooling and phytoplankton growth A hurricane’s passage over warm ocean waters can drive a significant amount of carbon dioxide from the waves to the sky. The violent winds associated with a passing storm can dramatically increase the gas exchange between the ocean and the atmosphere, sending over a hundred million metric tons of the greenhouse gas into the atmosphere …
17 August 2010
Dangerous heat waves to worsen, even with strong climate action
After the United Nation’s climate change conference in Copenhagen at the end of last year, most of the world’s big carbon dioxide emitters—including the United States, the European Union, and China—signed the “Copenhagen Accord,” saying they would not allow Earth to warm any more than an average of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial temperatures. While they didn’t say how they’d achieve it, they felt staying below this …
13 August 2010
Prototype instrument predicts solar flares
A blast of energy and particles erupted from the Sun on Saturday, marking the end of an approximately three-year period of very low solar activity. While people across the northern and southern hemispheres watched for the charged particles to hit Earth’s atmosphere and create auroras, Jonathan Cirtain was celebrating the event for another reason. Cirtain, an astrophysicist based at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, began building an …
27 July 2010
Weathering the Gulf cleanup: Providing better forecasts over water
Responding to the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico has required hundreds of ships and steady air traffic – both of which depend on having accurate weather forecasts to operate safely. Unfortunately, meteorologists haven’t have the ability to track weather conditions as well over the water as they do on land, which can lead to less accurate weather forecasts. To address that need, the National Weather Service asked atmospheric …