April 23rd, 2009An analysis of ancient Greenland ice suggests a spike in the greenhouse gas methane about 11,600 years ago originated from wetlands rather than the ocean floor or from permafrost, a finding that is good news according to the University of Colorado at Boulder scientist who led the study. Using carbon 14 as a "tracer" to date and distinguish wetland methane from methane clathrates, an international team determined the methane jump 11,600 years ago likely emanated primarily from Earth's wetlands. "From a global warming standpoint, this appears to be good news," said Petrenko of CU-Boulder's Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, lead author on a paper that was published in Science on April 24.
March 17th, 2009University of Colorado at Boulder geological sciences Professor Gifford Miller has been elected a fellow of the American Geophysical Union, an international organization made up of about 45,000 member scientists from more than 130 countries. Miller, also a fellow of CU-Boulder's Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, was honored "for his pioneering work in dating methods as well as his insights into the Quaternary climates and the role of humans in ecological change." The Quaternary period--the last 2.6 million years--includes the Pleistocene and Holocene epochs.
March 3rd, 2009Christian Körner uses the Web of Science database to explore the countries and institutions contributing most to scientific research about mountains and alpine environments. The University of Colorado ranks fourth on the list of institutions contributing scientific research; it is the only U.S. university in the top 20.
February 4th, 2009A new University of Colorado at Boulder-based supercomputer will vastly extend the ability of scientists across the globe in modeling and predicting many important aspects of Earth's surface processes, from glacial melting and flooding to coastal erosion and tropical ocean storms. The $750,000 cluster will support the National Science Foundation-funded Community Surface Dynamics Modeling System, or CSDMS, a library of computational tools used by scientists worldwide to model and predict natural and human-influenced environmental events. The new computer cluster, funded largely by CU-Boulder, the U.S. Geological Survey and Silicon Graphics of Sunnyvale, Calif., is now the single largest computing facility on campus.
January 16th, 2009Temperature change in the Arctic is happening at a greater rate than other places in the Northern Hemisphere, and this is expected to continue in the future. As a result, glacier and ice-sheet melting, sea-ice retreat, coastal erosion and sea level rise can be expected to continue. A new comprehensive scientific synthesis of past Arctic climates demonstrates for the first time the pervasive nature of Arctic climate amplification.
January 13th, 2009Managing invasive plant species on the Great Plains has become more challenging in recent years in the face of human-caused environmental change, including the positive responses of invaders to altered atmospheric chemistry and longer growing seasons, says a University of Colorado at Boulder professor. According to Professor Timothy Seastedt of CU-Boulder's ecology and evolutionary biology department, a warmer and longer growing season, increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and nitrogen deposition on the Great Plains amplify the ability of weedy species to compete with native plants.