Atmospheric

The body temperature of cold-blooded (ectothermic) animals, including insects, is ultimately determined by ambient temperature, and that impacts the speed and efficiency of their vital biological processes also.

But is it changes in average temperature or frequency of extreme temperature conditions that have the greatest impact on species distribution? A group of Danish and Australian researchers decided to examine a number of insect species to find out.


NASA's Aqua satellite passed over Tropical Cyclone 15S as it formed in the Mozambique Channel on Feb. 18
at 10:53 a.m. EST
and the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder
(AIRS) instrument aboard gathered infrared data on its cloud top temperatures and potential.

The data on the tropical system showed the highest cloud tops and strongest thunderstorms were in a band that stretched from the east to the south of the center. Cloud top temperatures were near -63F/-52C, indicating high, powerful thunderstorms with potential for heavy rainfall. The eastern-most edge was over western Madagascar and the southwestern extent reached Mozambique on the African mainland.


Policy makers are in constant discussion about a range of climate change mitigation possibilities and among the least understood are geoengineering methods.

The injection of sulfate particles into the atmosphere to reflect sunlight and curb the effects of global warming could pose a severe threat if not maintained indefinitely and also supported by strict reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, write  University of Washington researchers in Environmental Research Letters.


How are accurate are the world's most advanced weather forecasting models?

They perform okay, at least when it comes to predicting the very near future.  Two University of Iowa researchers, David Lavers and Gabriele Villarini, evaluated rainfall forecasts from eight different global numerical weather prediction (NWP) models and their ability to predict the Sept. 9th-16th, 2013 extreme rainfall that caused severe flooding in Boulder, Colorado.

During September of 2013, Boulder County and surrounding areas experienced severe flooding and heavy rain resulting in fatalities, the loss of homes and businesses, and the declaration of a major disaster.


Don't count nature out yet.

Some aspects of climate change are natural. And some mitigation will be also, according to researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Johns Hopkins University in the US and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. As the globe warms, ocean temperatures rise, leading to increased water vapor escaping into the atmosphere. Water vapor is really the most important greenhouse gas and its impact on climate is amplified in the stratosphere.

When it comes to global warming, there are seven big contributors: China is obviously number one, but exempt from climate treaties, as is India and Brazil. Also leading are the United States, gradually weaning itself off of the coal increases that occurred when environmentalists drove nuclear power from the country. Russia, Germany and the United Kingdom round the list out.

A new article in Environmental Research Letters blames these countries for more than 60 percent of pre-2005 global warming. Uniquely, it also assigns a temperature change value to each country that reflects its contribution to observed global warming.


The climate is a sensitive balancing act. There are a lot of knobs turning, making the future difficult to model.

But trees have done a surprisingly good job adapting quickly to keep atmospheric carbon dioxide in a 'sweet' spot for plant life.

As most people know, the cycles of the past have shown that about 90,000 of every 100,000 years have been ice ages. And it's been 12,000 years since the last one. But a biological mechanism could explain how the Earth's atmospheric carbon dioxide and climate were stabilized over the past 24 million years, so things never got too drastic.


What if nearly half of the cars on the road today were replaced by the electric kind, those vehicles that environmentalists and electric vehicle marketing groups claim are "90% efficient" and worth the extra cost? How much better would our emissions scenario be?

It wouldn't make much difference. Even a sharp increase in the use of electric drive cars (hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric) by 2050, up to as much as 42 percent of passenger vehicles in the U.S., would not significantly reduce emissions of high-profile pollutants like carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide or nitrogen oxides.


How bad is pollution in China? So bad you can see it from space.

Wait, can't you do that in the US? Anyone who has flown into Los Angeles in the morning surely sees pollution. 

This is different. And worse. Plumes of several anthropogenic pollutants, especially particulate matter and carbon monoxide, at ground level over China can now be detected from space - something that was only possible higher up previously. The team used measurements by the Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer on board the MetOp satellite and the findings represent a crucial step towards improved monitoring of regional pollution and forecasting of local pollution episodes, especially in China.

A wildfire started by three vagrants with drugs in their possession spread quickly in the foothills northeast of Los Angeles on January 16th, 2014. The plume of ash and smoke blanketed much of the metropolitan area and prompted air quality warnings, along with concerns about long-term effects to the climate.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites captured these images of the Colby fire just before (top) and just after noon on January 16. The morning image is clearer because the scene was centered under the satellite, while the afternoon image is fuzzy because the satellite was observing from an angle.