Scientists at the Comer Abrupt Climate Change Conference span the world and eons of time for their findings. George Denton's research takes him to glacial moraines in the Pukaki Valley of New Zealand (shown above), the backdrop of The Hobbit movies. The research adds up to solid climate economics. "Green" often means cold hard cash - or eco-friendly options. But climate scientist Richard Alley says that dealing with climate change reaps green for both meanings of the word.
Despite warming temperatures worldwide, scientists are exploring Earth’s ancient cold snaps. Researching how past ice ages ended can reveal clues about our planet’s future. Some of the evidence suggests that we might be overdue for an ice age, in fact, according to glaciologist Brenda Hall.
Ancient shorelines in the Great Basin of the American West reveal clues to severe ancient droughts that could help us better predict climate change for the future. Scientists in the U.S. and across the globe are using lake clues that signify wet and dry spells over thousands of years to link these periods to past climate changes. A warming planet is expected to cause increased dryness and drought in many areas, including the western U.S.
Take a deep breath – and pretend it’s 800,000 years ago. That ancient air you are breathing is pretty much the same as the stuff you’re inhaling at this moment. Except there’s a lot less carbon dioxide in it. We know because we’ve recovered that ancient air. With atmospheric records preserved by air bubbles trapped in glacial ice, ice core drillings are among the most coveted tools for scientists seeking to capture the climate record – and the CO2 levels linked to temperature rise and fall.
Climate scientists are confirming the latest United Nations assessment of rising sea levels, shrinking glaciers and intensifying heat waves due to human activities locking ever more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica. Ice is on the move and scientists are concerned about the potential collapse of the ice sheet.
You might want to think of climate researchers as arson investigators. That’s the comparison made by Penn State climate scientist Richard Alley at the Comer Abrupt Climate Change Conference this fall in southwestern Wisconsin. “You would very much want your arson investigator to know what a natural fire looks like, because if you’re going to accuse someone of starting a fire, you better know that nature didn’t do it,” said Alley.
Yes, humans are releasing huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. But we might be boosting the emissions from an unexpected place: the earth beneath our feet. Antarctic warming periods in the ancient past shows that soils may have amplified rises in temperature that occurred thousands of years ago. This could mean an unexpected wallop of excess CO2 in the atmosphere, giving "a kick" to global warming.
Climate trends in the Northern and
Southern hemispheres often seem out of sync, and scientists say they
need to solve the mystery to better understand what to expect in a
warming world. Enter
George Denton, a veteran researcher on the shifts between the ice ages and warm spells that crisscross
Earth’s climate history. Denton, a University of Maine professor in the
School of Earth and Climate sciences, searches for clues to glacial
mysteries across the world and across time.
Global warming is driving increased calving of the Greenland glaciers, causing icebergs the size of Central Park to crash into the sea. But low tides might be contributing to the calving crisis and helping to trigger huge earthquakes created by the massive icebergs, according to seismologist Meredith Nettles.