Arid areas are among the biggest (non-ocean) ecosystems we have and it turns out they take up higher levels of carbon as levels of carbon dioxide increase in the atmosphere.

The findings give scientists a better idea of the earth's "carbon budget" — how much carbon remains in the atmosphere as CO2 and is a concern for global warming and how much actually gets stored in the land or ocean in other carbon-containing forms.

Scientific uncertainly prevents definitive solutions (beyond putting a stop to the world and leaving poor people to a future with no food, water or air conditioning) but the stance that the issue is settled, even when solutions may not be effective, also leads to public mistrust and name-calling.

But that uncertainty should actually make us more rather than less concerned about climate change, according to two papers in Climatic Change which investigated the mathematics of uncertainty in the climate system and showed that increased scientific uncertainty necessitates even greater action to mitigate climate change. 

Britain's Air Pollution - It's Not Dust

Having read in today's news that smog affecting much of England is caused by dust from the Sahara I decided to implement the incredibly scientific Mark 1 eyeball test.  I went out on my bike with a camera.

The extreme cold weather observed across Europe and the east coast of the US in recent winters is due to to natural, long-term variations in sea surface temperatures, according to a new study published in Environmental Research Letters.

The researchers from University of California Irvine show that the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) phenomenon — a natural pattern of variation in North Atlantic sea surface temperatures that switches between a positive and negative phase every 60-70 years — can affect an atmospheric circulation pattern, known as the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), that influences the temperature and precipitation over the Northern Hemisphere in winter.

Increasing heat is estimated to extend dry conditions to far more farmland and cities by the end of the century, according to a new paper.

Much of the concern about future drought under a global warming scenario has focused on rainfall projections but higher evaporation rates may also play an important role as warmer temperatures wring more moisture from the soil, even in some places where rainfall is forecasted to increase, say the authors, who use the latest computer simulations to model the effects of both changing rainfall and evaporation rates on future drought in the journal Climate Dynamics.

Ammonia pollution from agricultural sources poses larger health costs than previously estimated, according to a numerical model by Harvard University researchers Fabien Paulot and Daniel Jacob, who estimated chemical reactions in the atmosphere to better represent how ammonia interacts in the atmosphere to form harmful particulate matter. The improved simulation helped the scientists narrow in on the estimated health costs from air pollution associated with food produced for export – a growing sector of agriculture and a source of trade surplus.

"The 'cost' is an economic concept to measure how much people are willing to pay to avoid a risk," Paulot said. "This is used to quantify the cost for society but also to evaluate the benefits of mitigation."

A 60,000-year record of rainfall in central Indonesia used sediments from a remote lake reveals important new details about the climate history of a region that wields a substantial influence on the global climate as a whole.

The Indonesian archipelago sits in the Indo-Pacific Warm Pool, an expanse of ocean that supplies a sizable fraction of the water vapor in Earth's atmosphere and plays a role in propagating El Niño cycles. Despite the region's importance in the global climate system, not much is known about its own climate history, says James Russell, associate professor of geological sciences at Brown.

There was a time when advocates knew that linking weather events to climate change was a bad idea; it left the science open to criticism if Al Gore was giving a talk on global warming during a blizzard.

Yet since 2012, when SuperStorm Sandy was linked to climate change and a reason to vote for President Obama, claims that every weather event, be it drought or flood, hot or cold, is evidence of global warming, have gotten more prevalent.

There are many enduring mysteries regarding the composition of the Earth's atmosphere but one may be a little closer to being solved. Researchers have discovered a microbial soil process that helps ensure that the explosive gas hydrogen remains at trace levels. 

In recent decades it was found that about 80 percent of all hydrogen released into the air is rapidly removed through soil activity, but exactly what is recycling it, and how, has remained unclear.

The criticism of wind farms is that they are expensive, don't product enough electricity to be meaningful and change the weather patterns even a thousand miles away.

That may have a benefit; they may weaken hurricanes before landfall.

Imagine a 2012 US presidential election without New York City media whipping up a "Super Storm" and implying that Republican candidate Mitt Romney would cause hurricanes? He still would have lost but it would have given environmentalists one less reason to be against protecting people by embracing common-sense changes like waterproof subway doors and a seawall.