News & Events

Research Theme: Atmosphere

News

Recent storms recouped 37 percent of California’s five-year snow-water deficit

Recent storms recouped 37 percent of California’s five-year snow-water deficit

The 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.

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Check out INSTAAR’s most talked-about recent research

As 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.

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Study on formaldehyde scavenging in thunderstorms shows changing ideas about atmospheric processes

Study on formaldehyde scavenging in thunderstorms shows changing ideas about atmospheric processes

Thunderstorms 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.

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When less is more: New study tracks down lingering source of carbon tetrachloride emissions

A 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.

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Investigating water and wine: Former postdoc returns to INSTAAR as biogeochemistry prof, researcher

Investigating water and wine: Former postdoc returns to INSTAAR as biogeochemistry prof, researcher

Biogeochemist 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.

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INSTAAR at AGU: Talks, posters, and sessions at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting

INSTAAR 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.

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Uintah Basin ozone study is ‘ACS Editor’s Choice’

The 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.

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INSTAAR at AGU: Talks, posters, and sessions at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting

INSTAAR 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.

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Methane paper wins NOAA Outstanding Scientific Paper Award

The 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.

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Undergraduate Hana Fancher designs own research project melding environmental science, engineering

Undergraduate Hana Fancher designs own research project melding environmental science, engineering

Hana 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.

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Methane mystery resolved: Long-term atmospheric record shows likely cause of recent stabilization

Methane mystery resolved: Long-term atmospheric record shows likely cause of recent stabilization

Increased 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.

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Too much of a good thing: Alpine plants under threat in Rocky Mountain National Park

Too much of a good thing: Alpine plants under threat in Rocky Mountain National Park

Nitrogen 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.

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New monitoring system clears up murky questions about greenhouse gases

New monitoring system clears up murky questions about greenhouse gases

A 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.

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‘Horizontal ice core’ shows history of atmospheric methane

‘Horizontal ice core’ shows history of atmospheric methane

INSTAAR 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.

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Podcast of Greenland atmospheric research

Podcast of Greenland atmospheric research

Detlev 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."

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Volatile organic compounds in the global atmosphere

Volatile organic compounds in the global atmosphere

Detlev 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.

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Type of methane found in ancient ice is good news for planet

Vasilii 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.

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Humans continue to transform the global nitrogen cycle at a record pace, study finds

Alan 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.

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Atmospheric monitoring course taught to international group of scientists

Detlev 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.

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Atmospheric CO2 pulses at the end of last ice age originated from the deep ocean

Tom 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."

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First ship-borne measurements of ozone fluxes to the ocean

First ship-borne measurements of ozone fluxes to the ocean

Members of INSTAAR's Atmospheric Resarch Lab have worked with colleagues to obtain the first ship-borne direct measurements of ozone fluxes to the ocean.

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Tropical forest CO2 emissions tied to nutrient increases

Cory 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.

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Methane gyrations in past 2,000 years show human influence on atmosphere

Humans 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.

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Ozone and the Oceans

Shelly 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.

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North Greenland ice core reveals gradual, abrupt climate swings

A 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.

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New ice core record will help understanding of ice ages, global warming, CU prof says

Recovery 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.

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INSTAAR grad student visits Japan with NSF EAPSI program

INSTAAR 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.

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High-elevation climate change: A new model for ecosystems

Tim 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.

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New CU-Boulder study shows increase in fungal metabolism under tundra snow

A 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.

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Increasing nitrogen in soils may signal global changes, CU researchers say

The 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.

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Increased strength of Asian southwest monsoon may be result of warming, say researchers

Research 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.

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Ice Age rearrangement of ocean pH

David 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.

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In The News

Ozone treaty taking a bite out of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions

A new study by CIRES, NOAA, and INSTAAR scientists shows that the Montreal Protocol, meant to deal with ozone, has also significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The report, in Geophysical Research Letters, digs into U.S. emissions numbers in a new way.

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CU Boulder scientists plan to bring fears of “nuclear winter” into focus

Colorado Public Radio interviews lead scientists Brian Toon and Cheryl Harrison about their new study evaluating the human and environmental impacts of potential nuclear wars.

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CU Boulder researcher seeks to extend understanding of nuclear winter

Brian Toon has explored the impacts of ultimate weapons since 1980s. A new study with CU Boulder and Rutgers University researchers calculates the impacts of potential nuclear war scenarios on humans and the environment using new scientific tools.

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Researchers to study environmental, human impacts of nuclear war

Scientists and students led by CU Boulder and Rutgers University are calculating the environmental and human impacts of a potential nuclear wars using the most sophisticated scientific tools available. Led by CU Boulder Professor Brian Toon and Rutgers Professor Alan Robock, the study includes work by Nikki Lovenduski and students on how the oceanic food chain might change in response to the climatic disruption and enhanced ultraviolet radiation from nuclear explosions.

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Scientist skis into the Rockies to collect flasks of air: Samples part of long-term carbon record

Each week, Jennifer Morse of the Mountain Research Station ventures high in the Colorado Rockies to Niwot Ridge. She often makes the trip on skis, and after the first few miles, it can get challenging. The conditions can be tough, but Morse has an important job. At Niwot Ridge, she pumps air into glass flasks, and then carefully brings them back down the slopes. Her samples add to a critical, long-term global record of atmospheric carbon pollution. The data helps scientists project future climate change.

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Boulder’s climate researchers wary of White House budget, Paris Accord exit

Colorado Public Radio: For decades, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has depended on a small but dedicated group of people to collect carbon dioxide data. Jen Morse is one of them: she heads up to Niwot Ridge on foot or skis each week to collect air samples. Long-term CO2 data is the scientific backbone for international climate change research. In a world where federal policy in the Trump administration can shift as quickly as the wind, she and other climate scientists are concerned about the future of the basic monitoring that lets us know what climate changes we have already committed to.

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Events

Monday Seminar: Matthew Long

Monday, November 27th at 12:00pm

SEEC room S228 (Sievers room), 4001 Discovery Drive, Boulder

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