Oceanography

For millennia, Greenland's ice sheet reflected sunlight back into space but satellite measurements in recent years suggest the bright surface is darkening, causing solar heat to be absorbed and surface melting to accelerate.

Some studies suggest this "dirty ice" or "dark snow" is caused by fallout from fossil fuel pollution and forest fires; soot or dust.

But a new study says the readings are just degrading satellite sensors and the ice sheet hasn't lost as much reflectivity as previously thought, and that black carbon and dust concentrations haven't increased significantly and are thus not responsible for darkening on the upper ice sheet.


A new study shows that surface water temperature in the Chesapeake Bay is increasing more rapidly than air temperature, signaling a need to look at the impact of warming waters on one of the largest and most productive estuaries in the world. The study was completed by Haiyong Ding and Andrew Elmore of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science's Appalachian Laboratory.

"I was surprised that the pattern of increasing water temperature was so clear," said study co-author Andrew Elmore. "If you take any group of five years, they are generally warmer than the previous five years. A consistent warming trend happening over a really large portion of the Bay."


Warming ocean temperatures a third of a mile below the surface, in a dark ocean in areas with little marine life, might attract scant attention. But this is precisely the depth where frozen pockets of methane 'ice' transition from a dormant solid to a powerful greenhouse gas.

New University of Washington research suggests that subsurface warming could be causing more methane gas to bubble up off the Washington and Oregon coast.

The study, to appear in the journal Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, shows that of 168 bubble plumes observed within the past decade, a disproportionate number were seen at a critical depth for the stability of methane hydrates.


Pioneering new research sheds light on the impact of climate change on subglacial lakes found under the Greenland ice sheet.

A team of experts, led by Dr Steven Palmer from the University of Exeter, has studied the water flow paths from one such subglacial lake, which drained beneath the ice sheet in 2011.

The study shows, for the first time, how water drained from the lake - via a subglacial tunnel. Significantly, the authors present satellite observations that show that a similar event happened in 1995, suggesting that this lake fills and drains periodically.

The study, called Subglacial lake drainage detected beneath the Greenland Ice Sheet is published in the journal Nature Communications.


A new global review led by the University of Exeter that set out to investigate the hazards of marine plastic pollution has warned that all seven species of marine turtles can ingest or become entangled in the discarded debris that currently litters the oceans.

The research, which was carried out in collaboration with Plymouth Marine Laboratory, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, North Carolina State University, Duke University Marine Lab and James Cook University, is published in the ICES Journal of Marine Science and reveals serious knowledge gaps in the diverse and complex pathways in which plastic pollution can harm marine life.


A pilot Earth Index commissioned by BBC Earth using data from the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) sets a new standard for estimating pretend money. It values coral at $10 trillion for the global economy. Trees are worth even more, at $16 trillion, which means the pretend value of trees are almost as much as all of the real value of the people in the United States (GDP $17.42 trillion.) Heck, the Grand Canyon is worth $700 million and it just sits there looking stoic.

If you've ever waited on an airport runway for your plane to be de-iced, had to remove all your food so the freezer could defrost, or arrived late to work because you had to scrape the sheet of ice off your car windshield, you know that ice can cause major headaches. 


Researchers from the University of Exeter believe they have solved one of the biggest puzzles in climate science. The new study, published in Nature Geoscience, explains the synchrony observed during glacial periods when low temperatures in the Southern Ocean correspond with low levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2).

The interdisciplinary study, carried out in collaboration with the University of Tasmania, demonstrates how a reconfiguration of ocean circulation can result in more carbon being stored in the deep ocean that previously thought.


The high frequency and magnitude of volcanic eruptions could have been the cause of the progressive cooling of ocean surfaces over a period of 1,800 years, according to a new study.

The study emphasizes that this trend came to an end with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and the resulting global warming caused by human activity. It further shows that the lowest temperatures in the first 1,800 years of the Common Era were recorded between the 16th and the 18th centuries, a period known as the "Little Ice Age".


As you all know, the ecosystem is like a giant human anti-lung - it breathes in the CO2 we exhale and helps produce oxygen.

It turns out that the Southern Ocean seasonally absorbs significantly more CO2 than they release, higher than previous estimates. Most importantly, these seas remove a large part of the CO2 that human activities emit into the atmosphere, thereby slowing down the growth of this greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, which has been lessening the rate of climate change.