Atmospheric

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.


CO2 gets most of the attention these days but it is not the only pollution the Arctic faces.

The environment is complex and the daisy chain of effects is unclear. That's why researchers who measured molecular chlorine levels in the Arctic in the spring of 2009 over a six-week period using chemical ionization mass spectrometry were skeptical of their data. 

Members of the public generally have a negative view of climate engineering, the deliberate large-scale manipulation of the environment to counteract climate change, according to a new paper. This makes some sense. If we can't predict the weather a week from now, it's very difficult to say we can predict the far more complicated climate after physical changes are made to the inputs.


We hear a lot about carbon storage and the impact on the atmosphere if CO2 is release during warming, but how does that work?

Carbon is not evenly distributed in soil, instead the kinds of carbon hot spots that matter are found on about 20 percent of mineral surfaces, according to a new paper. Studies have established that carbon binds to tiny mineral particles and in a new paper researchers show that the surface of the minerals plays just as important a role as their size.

"The carbon binds to minerals that are just a few thousandths of a millimeter in size – and it accumulates there almost exclusively on rough and angular surfaces," explains Prof. Ingrid Kögel-Knabner,
Technische Universitaet Muenchen


A new paper in Nature estimates that global average temperatures will rise at least 4°C by 2100 and potentially more than 8°C by 2200 if carbon dioxide emissions worldwide are not reduced -  due to a reestimate of the great unknowns of climate sensitivity, the role of cloud formation and whether this will have a positive or negative effect on global warming.

This new higher estimate was created using real world observations of water vapor in cloud formation.