July 24th, 2020Alaska is getting wetter. A new study spells out what that means for the permafrost that underlies about 85% of the state, and the consequences for Earth’s global climate.
June 29th, 2020In a "news and views" piece in Nature Climate Change, INSTAAR Sharon Stammerjohn and CIRES researcher Ted Scambos spell out the evidence and consequences of rapid warming at the South Pole and call for action to “flatten the curve” of global carbon emissions.
June 1st, 2020Researchers from NOAA and the University of Colorado have devised a breakthrough method for estimating national emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels using ambient air samples and a well-known isotope of carbon scientists have relied on for decades to date archaeological sites. In a paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they report the first-ever national scale estimate of fossil-fuel derived carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions obtained by observing CO2 and its naturally occurring radioisotope, carbon-14, from air samples collected by NOAA’s Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network.
January 27th, 2017The recent “atmospheric river” weather pattern that pummeled California with storms from late December to late January may have recouped 37 percent of the state’s five-year snow-water deficit, according to new University of Colorado Boulder-led research.
January 17th, 2017As part of the new year, we took a look at the most talked-about INSTAAR papers in recent months. An Altmetric search showed the top 10 papers with INSTAAR authors that have figured most prominently in the news and in social media conversations.
August 13th, 2016Thunderstorms are powerful things: their churning circulation can stir gases from the lower atmosphere into the upper atmosphere and even the lower stratosphere. They can also scrub gases out of the air by dissolving them in raindrops, a process known as scavenging. In a new study, INSTAAR scientists in collaboration with other scientists at CU and NCAR found that scavenging is not nearly as effective as previously believed for some soluble and highly reactive trace gases, a result that may change our views of atmospheric chemistry in a warming climate.
March 4th, 2016A new study pinpoints higher than reported emissions of carbon tetrachloride, an ozone-depleting chemical banned for uses that result in it escaping to the atmosphere.
July 14th, 2015Biogeochemist Eve-Lyn Hinckley, who was a postdoctoral fellow at INSTAAR from 2009 to 2011, has returned to CU as an assistant professor for INSTAAR and the Environmental Studies program. Hinckley will teach three courses annually, conduct research on sulfur and nitrogen in ecosystems, and eventually take over as director of INSTAAR’s Kiowa Lab, an environmental chemistry laboratory for the Niwot Ridge Long-Term Ecological Research Program.
December 15th, 2014INSTAAR faculty and graduate students will share new research at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting in San Francisco, 15 to 19 December. They will present new research on abrupt climate change, air quality and fracking, polar climate change, atmospheric chemistry, flood impacts, forests and snow, plants and soils, and past climates.
March 28th, 2014The American Chemical Society (ACS) has selected a new study that looks at air quality impacts from fracking emissions as an “Editor’s Choice.” The paper, by the scientists of INSTAAR’s Atmospheric Research Lab, has been made available to the public for free as an open-access paper.
December 5th, 2013INSTAAR faculty and graduate students will share their research at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting (http://fallmeeting.agu.org/2013/) held in San Francisco, 9 to 13 December. They will present new research on abrupt climate change, atmospheric chemistry, geomorphology, rivers and oceans, forests and snow, plants and soils, past climates, flood monitoring, Antarctic volcanoes, coastal erosion, and emissions from energy production.
November 20th, 2013The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has awarded a team of scientists, including INSTAAR director James White, with the most recent Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research Outstanding Scientific Paper Award for their work on atmospheric methane.
January 22nd, 2013Hana Fancher didn't wait for graduation to change the world. The undergraduate developed her own research project studying methane emissions from palm oil plantation wastewater ponds—a project that encouraged the plantation to build an anaerobic digester to power its processing and reduce greenhouse gases.
August 23rd, 2012Increased capture of natural gas from oil fields may account for up to 70 percent of the dramatic leveling off seen in atmospheric methane at the end of the 20th century, according to new research on a related gas, ethane. The study was published in Nature today by INSTAAR Fellow Detlev Helmig and colleagues from University of California, Irvine and NOAA.
July 6th, 2012Nitrogen compounds from power plants, automobiles, and agriculture is creating air pollution that is changing the alpine vegetation in Rocky Mountain National Park, says a new study by INSTAAR Fellow William Bowman and colleagues.
April 19th, 2012A team of researchers, led by INSTAAR Fellow Scott Lehman and CIRES Research Associate and NOAA scientist John Miller, has developed a new monitoring system to differentiate natural and man-made emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and trace gases in the atmosphere, a technique that likely could be used to monitor the effectiveness of measures regulating greenhouse gases.
March 15th, 2011INSTAAR postdoc Vasilii Petrenko was interviewed by Public Radio International (PRI) while helping drill shallow ice cores on the Taylor Glacier in Antarctica. The interview begins with the the eerie pinging sounds created by dropping leftover ice blocks back into a borehole 20 m (70 ft) deep.
May 20th, 2010Detlev Helmig, Jacques Hueber, and Brie Van Dam share their stories of working on the Greenland Ice Sheet for a podcast entitled "Of Snow Forts and Frostbite: Learning to Work (and Play) at the Poles."
April 10th, 2010Detlev Helmig led a team from six countries to summarize initial results of a global monitoring network for volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Although still being built, the global VOC network is already yielding insights into how the complex interactions associated with these organic chemicals influence climate and air quality.
April 23rd, 2009Vasilii Petrenko (INSTAAR postdoc) led a large international team in developing and applying a new technique for analyzing the carbon-14 content of methane in ancient Greenland ice. Their analyses suggest that 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 from a global warming standpoint.
May 17th, 2008Alan Townsend and other members of the International Nitrogen Initiative (INI) North American Nitrogen Center have published a review of human influence on the global nitrogen cycle in Science.
November 23rd, 2007Detlev Helmig was invited to teach a course on monitoring of atmospheric volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to an international group of scientists, including participants from several eastern European countries, Algeria, Kenya, and Indonesia.
June 1st, 2007Tom Marchitto, Scott Lehman, Jaqueline Flückiger, and colleagues have identified a mechanism for the enormous carbon dioxide increase in Earth's atmosphere at the end of the last ice age: abrupt changes in deep ocean circulation. The team analyzed sediment cores from the North Pacific, discovering two large CO2 "burps."
November 6th, 2006Members of INSTAAR's Atmospheric Resarch Lab have worked with colleagues to obtain the first ship-borne direct measurements of ozone fluxes to the ocean.
June 21st, 2006Cory Cleveland and Alan Townsend have completed a study of tropical forest soils showing that even small changes in nutrients could have a profound impact on the release of CO2.
November 5th, 2005Humans have been tinkering with greenhouse gas levels in Earth's atmosphere for at least 2,000 years and probably longer, according to a surprising new study of methane trapped in Antarctic ice cores conducted by an international research team.
October 15th, 2005Shelly Sommer created a poster display for the Discovery Science Center, a hands-on science center in Fort Collins, that describes a project, led by Detlev Helmig, to measure ozone fluxes over the oceans.
September 15th, 2004A new, undisturbed Greenland ice deep-core record going back 123,000 years shows the Eemian period prior to the last glacial period was slightly warmer than the present day before it gradually cooled and sent Earth into an extended deep freeze.
June 9th, 2004Recovery of a new ice core in Antarctica that extends back 740,000 years--nearly twice as long as any other ice core record--will help scientists better understand the Earth's climate and issues related to global warming, according to INSTAAR Jim White.
June 1st, 2004INSTAAR graduate student Jocelyn Turnbull spent 8 weeks in Japan working on a carbon cycle research project with the greenhouse gas group at Tohoku University in Sendai.
February 15th, 2004Tim Seastedt, Bill Bowman, Nel Caine, Diane McKnight, Alan Towsend, and Mark Williams (Niwot Ridge LTER PIs) published a key conceptual paper, "The Landscape Continuum: A Model for High-Elevation Ecosystems," in volume 54, no. 2 of Bioscience. Their paper employs a new conceptual model that links terrestrial ecosystems to each other and to aquatic ecosystems.
September 4th, 2003A new University of Colorado at Boulder study has shown that microbes living under the tundra snow pack ramp up their populations in late winter, a finding with implications for changing estimates of carbon dioxide levels in Earth's atmosphere.
October 30th, 2002The rapid increase of nitrogen falling from the sky as a result of fossil-fuel combustion and crop fertilization, combined with carbon stored in Earth's soils, could change the rate of the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, rising into the atmosphere, according to a new study by Alan Townsend and others.
July 24th, 2002Research by David Anderson and colleagues indicates the Asian southwest monsoon, which affects the livelihood of millions of people, appears to have increased in intensity during the last four centuries, perhaps as a result of warming in the Northern Hemisphere.
March 10th, 2002David Anderson and David Archer (Univ Chicago) have reconstructed carbonate-ion concentration—and hence pH—of the glacial oceans, using the extent of calcium carbonate dissolution observed in foraminifer faunal assemblages.
In The News
July 1st, 2020Surface air temperatures at the bottom of the world have risen three times faster than the global average since the 1990s. Sharon Stammerjohn (INSTAAR) and Ted Scambos (NSIDC) are quoted on their commentary in Nature Climate Change on the subject, calling for climate action.
June 24th, 2020A new sampling method uses carbon-14 to single out which carbon dioxide molecules in the atmosphere derive from fossil fuels. The method could help track emissions goals for climate mitigation.
June 8th, 2020Researchers from NOAA and CU Boulder have devised a breakthrough method for determining emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion. In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers report the first-ever national estimate of fossil-fuel derived carbon dioxide emissions obtained by observing carbon dioxide and its naturally occurring radioisotope, carbon-14, from air samples collected by the NOAA Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network. This new method is expected to provide a more accurate look at changes in fossil fuel emissions as the economy begins its recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the method will be particularly robust at identifying year-to-year emissions trends, allowing governments to independently assess their progress toward meeting the Paris Climate Agreement goals.
June 4th, 2020Scientists have been using carbon-dating techniques for years to measure the age of Earth's archaeological treasures. Now they've found a way to use it to identify sources of man-made carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere. The research, underway in NOAA laboratories and the University of Colorado, Boulder, since 2003, might help nations and states reduce CO2 emissions from major sources in the fossil fuel and cement industries.
April 24th, 2020The COVID-19 pandemic is taking a toll on science. But some research has kept going through it all, including a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration–led effort to keep tabs on the amount of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere: the Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network. This Grist story quotes Bruce Vaughn and Jen Morse.
April 19th, 2020A Boulder scientist noted that in recent days an email has traveled through his circle that goes like this: “Everybody: You can’t shut down the whole world; Mother Nature: Hold my beer.” Humankind is living through a prolonged and unintended test case of what it might look like if homo sapiens’ footprint on the planet — and much of their attendant emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants — was dramatically reduced. The jury is still out, but the early evidence is sufficient for some local scientists to at least talk about what it might mean — but also, what we can’t yet know. This Daily Camera story quotes Bruce Vaughn, Arlyn Andrews, and others and features a photo of Alyssa Johnson working in SIL.
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