Northern Canada Feels the Heat: Climate Change Impact On Permafrost Zones

Permafrost zones extend over 50% of Canada's land area. Warming or thawing of permafrost due to climate change could significantly impact existing infrastructure and future development in Canada's north. Researchers Jennifer Throop and Antoni Lewkowicz at the University of Ottawa, along with Sharon Smith with the Geological Survey of Canada, have published a new study, part of an upcoming special issue of the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences (CJES), that provides one of the first summaries of climate and ground temperature relations across northern Canada.

NASA Views Our Perpetual Ocean

The swirling flows of tens of thousands of ocean currents were captured in this scientific visualization created by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The visualization covers the period June 2005 to December 2007 and is based on a synthesis of a numerical model with observational data, created by a NASA project called Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean, or ECCO for short.

Elevated Carbon Dioxide Concentrations Can Increase Carbon Storage in the Soil

Elevated carbon dioxide concentrations can increase carbon storage in the soil, according to results from a 12-year carbon dioxide-enrichment experiment at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The increased storage of carbon in soil could help to slow down rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. The Department of Energy-sponsored free-air carbon dioxide-enrichment, or FACE, experiment officially ended in 2009. The conclusion and final harvest of the ORNL FACE experiment provided researchers with the unique opportunity to cut down entire trees and to dig in the soil to quantify the effects of elevated carbon dioxide concentrations on plant and soil carbon.

NASA Sees Repeating La Niña Hitting Its Peak

La Niña, "the diva of drought," is peaking, increasing the odds that the Pacific Northwest will have more stormy weather this winter and spring, while the southwestern and southern United States will be dry. Sea surface height data from NASA's Jason-1 and -2 satellites show that the milder repeat of last year's strong La Niña has recently intensified, as seen in the latest Jason-2 image of the Pacific Ocean.

More Shrubbery in a Warming World

ScienceDaily (Dec. 8, 2011) — Scientists have used satellite data from NASA-built Landsat missions to confirm that more than 20 years of warming temperatures in northern Quebec, Canada, have resulted in an increase in the amount and extent of shrubs and grasses.

Date and Rate of Earth’s Most Extreme Extinction Pinpointed: Results Stem from Largest Ever Examination of Fossil Marine Species

ScienceDaily (Nov. 17, 2011) — It's well known that Earth's most severe mass extinction occurred about 250 million years ago. What's not well known is the specific time when the extinctions occurred. A team of researchers from North America and China have published a paper in Science which explicitly provides the date and rate of extinction.

Helping Unravel Causes of Ice Age Extinctions

ScienceDaily (Nov. 2, 2011) — Did climate change or humans cause the extinctions of the large-bodied Ice Age mammals (commonly called megafauna) such as the woolly rhinoceros and woolly mammoth? Scientists have for years debated the reasons behind the Ice Age mass extinctions, which caused the loss of a third of the large mammals in Eurasia and two thirds of the large mammals in North America.

Prehistoric Greenhouse Data from Ocean Floor Could Predict Earth’s Future, Study Finds

ScienceDaily (Oct. 27, 2011) — New research from the University of Missouri indicates that Atlantic Ocean temperatures during the greenhouse climate of the Late Cretaceous Epoch were influenced by circulation in the deep ocean. These changes in circulation patterns 70 million years ago could help scientists understand the consequences of modern increases in greenhouse gases.

Why Climate Models Underestimated Arctic Sea Ice Retreat: No Arctic Sea Ice in Summer by End of Century?

ScienceDaily (Oct. 6, 2011) — In recent decades, Arctic sea ice has suffered a dramatic decline that exceeds climate model predictions. The unexpected rate of ice shrinkage has now been explained by researchers at CNRS, Université Joseph Fourier and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They argue that climate models underestimate the rate of ice thinning, which is actually about four times faster than calculations. This model bias is due to the poor representation of the sea ice southward drift out of the Arctic basin through the Fram Strait. When this mechanism was taken into account to correct the discrepancy between simulations and observations, results from the new model suggested that there will be no Arctic sea ice in summer by the end of the century.

It’s All in the Head: Songbirds With Bigger Brains Have Benefited from the End of Communism

ScienceDaily (Sep. 15, 2011) — According to a new study published in Biological Conservation the abundance of songbirds with relatively large brains in Eastern Germany and the Czech Republic has increased since 1989 / 1990. Researchers from German Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F) and Czech Charles University in collaboration with "Dachverband Deutscher Avifaunisten" (Federation of German Avifaunists) had compared population trends of bird species in different European regions. The increase in large-brained songbirds is attributed to the better cognitive abilities of the species enabling them better adaption to the socio-economic changes affecting habitats after the end of communism.