News & Events

Research Theme: Climate Indicators

News

Pizza at the ends of the earth

Pizza at the ends of the earth

Last Month, Michael Gooseff, Principal Investigator for the McMurdo Dry Valleys LTER and his team had the opportunity to host TV personality Anthony Bourdain of CNN’s Parts Unknown. Boudain, most famous for his exotic culinary exploits, sat down with Gooseff and his team to share a pizza in one of the most remote places on earth - Antarctica.

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Arctic Arts invites us to “See things differently”

Arctic Arts invites us to “See things differently”

Photographer Kerry Koepping is an INSTAAR affiliate and project director of the Arctic Arts Project, an initiative to document environmental and cultural change in the periarctic region over three years.

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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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Season of intense melting in Antarctica offers insights into continent’s future

A single season of intense melting that affected Antarctica between 2001 and 2002 offers new insights into the southernmost continent's ecological future and the potential impact of climate change worldwide, according to observations collected in a series of papers and published in the journal BioScience.

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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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Coal vs. natural gas in the climate ring: Calling this fight is tricky

A look at the complex climate-related tradeoffs of coal-fired electricity vs. natural gas.

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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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Less ice, more water: New research shows parts of Arctic Ocean rapidly shifting conditions

Less ice, more water: New research shows parts of Arctic Ocean rapidly shifting conditions

By the 2050s, parts of the Arctic Ocean once covered by sea ice much of the year will see at least 60 days a year of open water, according to a new modeling study led by Katy Barnhart of INSTAAR. Barnhart and her colleagues, including CIRES Fellow Jennifer Kay and INSTAAR Fellow Irina Overeem, set out to investigate the very local impacts of open water expansion patterns in the Arctic. Their work is published today in the journal Nature Climate Change. The researchers used climate model simulations from the National Center for Atmospheric Research-based Community Earth System Model to see how the number of open water, or sea-ice-free, days change from 1850 to 2100 in our planet’s northernmost ocean. They also wanted to understand when open water conditions in specific locations would be completely different from preindustrial conditions.

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Performance, Art and Music for a Resilient Boulder

Performance, Art and Music for a Resilient Boulder

The event Performance, Art and Music for a Resilient Boulder brought together two hundred citizens, students, scientists, and faculty to see creative works in which Boulder youth shared their visions for a resilient community.

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Mekelle University fosters climate change adaptation leaders in Africa

Mekelle University fosters climate change adaptation leaders in Africa

A unique partnership between Mekelle University, Ethiopia, and the Consortium for Capacity Building (CCB), CU-Boulder, is fostering climate leaders in Africa. Mekelle University’s Institute for Climate and Society (ICS) opens multidisciplinary skills in climate change adaptation and resilience to graduate students from Ethiopia and elsewhere in the region.

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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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Measuring sunlight on the cheap: Open source electronics for datalogging

Measuring sunlight on the cheap: Open source electronics for datalogging

Ecohydrologist Holly Barnard and Matt Findley had a side project: could they build a research-grade field instrument from hobbyist-grade microcontrollers? After some tinkering and testing, PARduino meant the answer was yes.

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Balanced on a knife point: Are glaciers self-organized critical systems?

Balanced on a knife point: Are glaciers self-organized critical systems?

A study involving two INSTAAR researchers takes a new view of glaciers and ice sheets as self-organized critical systems, which may explain why a slight climate change can mean the difference between relatively stable ice and the complete collapse of entire ice shelves.

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Sustainable Deltas 2015 launches in Rotterdam

Sustainable Deltas 2015 launches in Rotterdam

A unique initiative, Sustainable Deltas 2015 (SD2015), launched today at the Deltas in Times of Climate Change II International Conference in Rotterdam. The aim of the initiative is to focus attention and research on the value and vulnerability of deltas worldwide, and enhance international and regional cooperation among scientists, policymakers and other stakeholders.

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“Wicked problems” to be subject of symposium on coupled human–natural systems

Patrick Bourgeron and Jelena Vukomanovic will convene a special symposium on “wicked problems” in coupled human and natural systems at the 2014 US-IALE Annual Symposium in Anchorage, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 21.

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Apples in Atebes: Cultivating climate resilience in an Ethiopian village

Apples in Atebes: Cultivating climate resilience in an Ethiopian village

Tsegay Wolde-Georgis, of the INSTAAR program Consortium for Capacity Building (CCB), is leading a project to introduce the cultivation of apple trees irrigated by water-filled, buried clay pots to the mountainous, dry region of Atebes, a village of 4000 people in northern Ethiopia. Over the last 30 years, land degradation and climate change have exacerbated existing constraints of drought, soil erosion, deforestation, poor food supply consisting entirely of cereal grains, and lack of access to water. The goal of the clay pot project is to improve the resiliency of the community to climate-related hazards through demonstration and capacity building. So far, the project has led not only to the cultivation of high-value fruits and vegetables, but to erosion control and improved water supplies.

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Methane leaks from palm oil wastewater are a climate concern, INSTAAR lab team says

Methane leaks from palm oil wastewater are a climate concern, INSTAAR lab team says

An analysis published Feb. 26 in the journal Nature Climate Change shows that the wastewater produced during the processing of palm oil is a significant source of heat-trapping methane in the atmosphere. But the researchers also present a possible solution: capturing the methane and using it as a renewable energy source.

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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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New report calls for early warning system regarding abrupt climate change events

Both abrupt changes in the physical climate system and steady changes in climate that can trigger abrupt changes in other physical, biological, and human systems present potential threats to nature and society. Abrupt change is already underway in some systems, and large scientific uncertainties about the likelihood of other abrupt changes highlight the need for further research. However, with recent advances in understanding of the climate system, some potential abrupt changes once thought to be imminent threats are now considered unlikely to occur this century. This report summarizes the current state of knowledge on potential abrupt changes to the ocean, atmosphere, ecosystems, and high latitude areas, and identifies key research and monitoring needs. The report calls for action to develop an abrupt change early warning system to help anticipate future abrupt changes and reduce their impacts.

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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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Down to Earth: Meet an INSTAAR scientist and a renowned photographer on their home ground

Down to Earth: Meet an INSTAAR scientist and a renowned photographer on their home ground

Meet the people behind the science—and art—resulting from INSTAAR research, featured in two recent EARTH Magazine interviews.

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Students conduct alpine fieldwork on effects of climate change and air pollution

Students conduct alpine fieldwork on effects of climate change and air pollution

Meet two undergraduate students working in the alpine environment of the Mountain Research Station, where topics studied range from plant and animal ecology to hydrology and atmospheric science. The undergraduate experience at the station provides students with hands-on training in advanced research techniques at what is widely regarded as the best known site in the world specializing in alpine environmental science.

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Ice-free Arctic Ocean may have amped up temperatures during the Pliocene

Ice-free Arctic Ocean may have amped up temperatures during the Pliocene

A new study involving Giff Miller, Jim White, and former students and postdocs suggests that an ice-free Arctic Ocean may have amped up temperatures during the Pliocene Epoch. Year-round ice-free conditions across the Arctic Ocean could explain why the Earth was substantially warmer during the Pliocene Epoch than it is today, despite similar concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, according to the research published online in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology.

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World’s melting glaciers making large contribution to sea rise

World’s melting glaciers making large contribution to sea rise

While 99 percent of Earth’s land ice is locked up in the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, the remaining ice in the world’s glaciers contributed just as much to sea rise as the two ice sheets combined from 2003 to 2009, says a new study led by Clark University and involving INSTAAR Fellow Tad Pfeffer.

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Deep ice cores show past Greenland warm period may be ‘road map’ for continued warming of planet

Deep ice cores show past Greenland warm period may be ‘road map’ for continued warming of planet

New results from the international NEEM deep ice core drilling project on Greenland, analyzing cores going back in time more than 100,000 years, indicates the last interglacial period may be a good analog for where the planet is headed in terms of increasing greenhouse gases and rising temperatures.

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Award-winning documentary Chasing Ice brings melting glaciers to theaters nationwide

Award-winning documentary Chasing Ice brings melting glaciers to theaters nationwide

Chasing Ice, a documentary by director Jeff Orlowski that has won awards at film festivals around the world, is being released nationally in U.S. theaters starting in mid-November. The film follows photographer and INSTAAR affiliate James Balog as he and his team in the Extreme Ice Survey capture stunning time-lapse footage of melting glaciers, despite balky equipment, sideways terrain, terrible weather, and personal injury.

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CU-led mountain forest study shows vulnerability to climate change

CU-led mountain forest study shows vulnerability to climate change

A new University of Colorado Boulder-led study that ties forest “greenness” in the western United States to fluctuating year-to-year snowpack indicates mid-elevation mountain ecosystems are most sensitive to rising temperatures and changes in precipitation and snowmelt. Led by CU-Boulder researcher Ernesto Trujillo and Assistant Professor Noah Molotch, the study team identified the threshold where mid-level forests sustained primarily by moisture change to higher-elevation forests sustained primarily by sunlight and temperature. Being able to identify this “tipping point” is important because it is in the mid-level forests--at altitudes from roughly 6,500 to 8,000 feet--where many people live and play in the West and which are associated with increasing wildfires, beetle outbreaks and increased tree mortality.

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Increase in metal concentrations in Rocky Mountain watershed tied to warming temperatures

Increase in metal concentrations in Rocky Mountain watershed tied to warming temperatures

Warmer air temperatures since the 1980s may explain significant increases in zinc and other metal concentrations of ecological concern in a Rocky Mountain watershed, reports a new study led by CU-Boulder and the USGS. Rising concentrations of zinc and other metals in the upper Snake River just west of the Continental Divide near Keystone, Colo., may be the result of falling water tables, melting permafrost and accelerating mineral weathering rates, all driven by warmer air temperatures in the watershed. Researchers observed a fourfold increase in dissolved zinc over the last 30 years during the month of September.

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International conference draws experts in climate politics and culture

International conference draws experts in climate politics and culture

Global experts in climate change politics and policy will be in Boulder September 13-15 for the International Conference on Culture, Politics & Climate Change. Participants from over 20 countries will explore intersections between culture, politics and science in an effort to increase understanding of how public policy is (or is not) created to address climate change.

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CU-Boulder scientists to give climate change programs at Rifle Public Library in August

In conjunction with the “Discover Earth: A Century of Change” exhibit, Jim White and Mark Williams will lead climate science-focused presentations at the Rifle Branch Library, 207 East Avenue, on Thursday, Aug. 9 and Thursday, Aug. 16.

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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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Front Range environment is changing fast, LTER studies find

Front Range environment is changing fast, LTER studies find

Six papers published this month in the journal BioScience report on ecological changes at 26 research sites, including INSTAAR’s Niwot Ridge site, adjacent to the Mountain Research Station west of Boulder. They indicate that ecosystems dependent on seasonal snow and ice are the most sensitive to changes in climate.

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Documentary about Extreme Ice Survey wins award, acclaim at Sundance Film Festival

Documentary about Extreme Ice Survey wins award, acclaim at Sundance Film Festival

Director Jeff Orlowski spent months following photographer James Balog as he struggled with balky equipment, terrible weather, sideways terrain, and personal injury to acquire time-lapse photography of retreating glaciers. The resulting documentary, Chasing Ice, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival January 21. The 75-minute film received standing ovations after each of ten screenings, and Orlowski took home the Excellence in Cinematography Award for Documentary Films.

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USAID, CU-Boulder partner to study water resources in Asia mountains

USAID, CU-Boulder partner to study water resources in Asia mountains

One third of the world's population relies on water from the rivers originating in the high mountain ranges of Asia. USAID has commissioned CU-Boulder researchers to assess snow and glacier contributions to this water supply as part of a comprehensive look at freshwater resources in the area.

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John Andrews elected AAAS Fellow

John Andrews elected AAAS Fellow

John Andrews has been elected Fellow of the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science for 2011. Each year the AAAS Council elects Fellows whose “efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications are scientifically or socially distinguished.” Andrews, a fellow of INSTAAR and professor emeritus of Geological Sciences, was cited for his leadership and seminal contributions to glacial geology and paleoclimatology in high latitudes for more than 40 years, especially in abrupt climate change and ice sheet dynamics.

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Sundance Film Festival to feature documentary Chasing Ice, about Extreme Ice Survey

Sundance Film Festival to feature documentary Chasing Ice, about Extreme Ice Survey

The Sundance Film Festival announced Wednesday that the film Chasing Ice has been selected for its 2012 slate. The documentary feature, directed by Jeff Orlowski, reveals the work of photographer James Balog and his Extreme Ice Survey (EIS) project. Balog, once a skeptic about climate change, discovers through EIS undeniable evidence of a warming world. Chasing Ice features hauntingly beautiful, multi-year time-lapse videos of vanishing glaciers, while delivering fragile hope to our carbon-powered planet.

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NSF awards INSTAAR largest environmental sciences award in CU-Boulder history

NSF awards INSTAAR largest environmental sciences award in CU-Boulder history

A $5.9 million grant for alpine ecosystem research will allow INSTAAR to continue for six years its intensive studies of long-term ecological changes in Colorado's high mountains, both natural and human-caused, over decades and centuries. The grant is the largest environmental sciences award in CU-Boulder history.

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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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New study ties warm North Atlantic water to heating Arctic

New study ties warm North Atlantic water to heating Arctic

North Atlantic water flowing into the Arctic Ocean is warmer than it has been in at least 2,000 years, which is likely amplifying global warming in the Arctic, says a new international study involving INSTAAR fellow Tom Marchitto. The team believes that the rapid warming of the Arctic and recent decrease in sea ice extent are tied to the enhanced heat transfer from the North Atlantic Ocean.

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Elevated zinc in Colorado waterway likely a result of climate change

Elevated zinc in Colorado waterway likely a result of climate change

Caitlin Crouch and Diane McKnight found that rising concentrations of zinc in the Snake River watershed on Colorado's Western Slope may be the result of earlier spring snowmelt. They observed a four-fold increase in dissolved zinc over the last 30 years during September and October, the lowest water flow months. They also noticed that the low flows have become lower - and probably the soil along the stream drier - as air temperatures have risen and snowmelt has begun two to three weeks earlier.

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Brighter sun may cool the tropical Pacific Ocean

A research team led by Tom Marchitto has found evidence supporting an important role for the Sun in regional-scale climate variability. They found that slow variations in solar output have nudged the circulation of the tropical Pacific Ocean toward states resembling El Niño and La Niña.

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Photographer James Balog receives prestigious 2010 Heinz Award

INSTAAR affiliate James Balog is a 2010 recipient of a Heinz Award for his dramatic photography to document the rapid depletion of ancient glaciers around the world associated with global warming. He is acknowledged for his unique techniques and creative ability to capture images for pioneering scientific studies.

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INSTAAR-led study of Alaskan coastal retreat wins partnering award

INSTAAR-led study of Alaskan coastal retreat wins partnering award

Bob Anderson, Irina Overeem and Cameron Wobus led a research team that won the 2009 partnering award from the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP).

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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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Arctic lake sediment record shows warming, unique ecological changes in recent decades

A team of researchers discovered that biological and chemical changes occurring at a remote Arctic lake in recent decades are unprecedented over the past 200,000 years and the result of human-caused climate change. Their record of past environments goes back in time 80,000 years before the oldest reliable ice cores from Greenland and captures three interglacial periods, including the Holocene. But changes seen in the sediment cores since about 1950 show that expected natural climate cooling and related changes in the lake environment are being overridden by human activity like greenhouse gas emissions.

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Recent warming reverses long-term Arctic cooling

An international team of scientists have reconstructed past climate in the Arctic over the past 2,000 years in unprecedented detail. The team found that Arctic temperatures have reversed from a long-term cooling trend and are now the warmest they have been in at least 2,000 years, bad news for the world’s coastal cities facing rising seas in the coming decades.

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INSTAAR scientists help break ice core drilling record

A new international research effort on the Greenland ice sheet--with Jim White helping lead the U.S. contribution--set a record for single-season deep ice-core drilling this summer, recovering more than a mile of ice core that is expected to help scientists better assess the risks of abrupt climate change in the future.

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Learn More About Climate gives Colorado answers

Learn More About Climate gives Colorado answers

Jim White is one of several CU-Boulder climate scientists featured in videos and other media for a new website called LearnMoreAboutClimate.colorado.edu. The site is designed to engage Colorado citizens in learning about climate and to encourage them to make lifestyle changes.

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Ice sheets can retreat in a geologic instant

Researchers have produced an exceptionally detailed record of past ice-sheet retreat through a Canadian fjord and, in the process, have provided insight into how present ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica may thin and retreat with continued global warming.

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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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Gifford Miller elected fellow of the American Geophysical Union

Gifford Miller was elected a fellow of the American Geophysical Union for his "pioneering work in dating methods as well as his insights into Quaternary climates and the role of humans in ecological change." Fellowship is bestowed on no more than 0.1 percent of the total AGU membership of about 45,000 in any given year and recognizes scientists who have attained acknowledged eminence in the geophysical sciences.

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Synthesis report on past climate variability in the Arctic and implications for the future

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Curbing invasive plant species in the Boulder region

Tim Seastedt and colleagues have been awarded a $500,000 grant to help reduce invasive plant species in the Boulder region. They will be employing research, modeling and outreach in partnership with Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP). The project will focus on three weed species viewed as threats to the conservation goals of OSMP, including Dalmation toadflax, Canada thistle and cheatgrass.

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Warming climate signals big changes for ski areas

Climate change will lead to substantially shorter ski seasons and less snow on lower slopes of the Rocky Mountains, greatly impacting Colorado's ski industry, INSTAAR scientists find.

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Video of Alaska’s eroding Arctic coast

Andy Revkin has posted a time-lapse video of Alaska’s rapidly eroding Arctic coast by INSTAAR and USGS researchers on his New York Times Dot Earth Blog.

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$1 million grant to help developing countries respond to climate change impacts

The Rockefeller Foundation has given CU-Boulder a $1 million grant to reestablish the Consortium for Capacity Building (CCB), directed by Mickey Glantz, to equip scholars and practitioners in developing countries with the knowledge and networks to adapt to climate change.

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As Andean glacier retreats, tiny life forms move in

A CU-Boulder team working at 16,400 feet in the Peruvian Andes has discovered how barren soils uncovered by retreating glacier ice can swiftly establish a thriving community of microbes, setting the table for lichens, mosses and alpine plants.

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Global sea-level rise may be lower than predicted

Tad Pfeffer and colleagues Joel Harper (U of Montana) and Shad O'Neel (Scripps UCSD, former INSTAAR) have calculated that global sea level rise by the end of this century will be less than six feet.

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The opening of a new landscape: Columbia Glacier at mid-retreat

Tad Pfeffer's new book on Alaska's Columbia Glacier represents not only a valuable contribution to the scientific literature, but a history of exploration and a stunningly beautiful photographic record of one of the most studied glaciers on the face of the earth.

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School of Sustainability?

Jim White, Alan Townsend, and CU colleagues argue for a more formal administrative structure for interdisciplinary environmental education and research at CU-Boulder.

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CU panel series highlights climate, energy, and sustainability

Bill Bowman, Diane McKnight, Alan Townsend, and Jim White are participating in "Meeting the Global Energy and Climate Challenge," a series of more than a dozen public lectures and panel discussions focusing on climate change, energy, and the environment.

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Climate experts tussle over details; public gets whiplash

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Greenland ice core analysis shows abrupt climate change near end of last ice age

Jim White and Trevor Popp are part of a 17-person international ice-core team who discovered that two huge temperature spikes prior to the close of the last ice age some 11,500 years ago were tied to rapid and fundamental shifts in atmospheric circulation.

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Conservation, restoration strategies must shift with global environmental change

Tim Seastedt and colleagues investigated ecosystem management studies from the past 12 years in an effort to determine best practices for the future. They propose that biologists and managers focus on making existing ecosystems resilient to further environmental change rather than on attempting to restore them to their original state.

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Baffin Island ice caps smallest in at least 1,600 years

Baffin Island ice caps smallest in at least 1,600 years

Rebecca Anderson, Gifford Miller, Stephen DeVogel, and colleagues have determined that ice caps on the northern plateau of Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic are currently smaller than they have been for at least the last 1,600 years, with their extent shrinking by more than 50% since 1958. Even with no additional warming, the ice caps are expected to disappear in 50 years or less.

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Glaciers and ice caps to dominate sea-level rise through 21st century

Mark Meier led a team of INSTAAR and Russian scientists who found that Earth's mountain glaciers and small ice caps are contributing more to global sea-level rise than previously anticipated--more than the massive Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets combined.

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James Syvitski to lead new NSF earth-surface modeling effort

Syvitski will be the executive director of a new NSF initiative, the Community Surface Dynamic Modeling System (CSDMS), which will study how landscapes and seascapes change over time, and how materials like water, sediments and nutrients are transported from one place to another. These studies will allow better predictions about areas at risk to phenomena like deforestation, forest fires, land-use changes and the impacts of climate change.

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Niwot Ridge selected as a core site for the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON)

NEON is the largest ecological project ever attempted by the National Science Foundation--the first national ecological measurement and observation system designed both to answer regional- to continental-scale scientific questions and to have the interdisciplinary participation necessary to achieve credible ecological forecasting and prediction.

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Global warming to change ski industry in Western USA

Mark Williams and Brian Lazar presented a study of the potential effects of global warming on Park City to more than 1,000 of the town's 8,500 residents, who crowded into the local auditorium to hear that temperatures are projected to rise 6 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit and that the snowpack will likely be substantially reduced by the end of the century.

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Glaciers adding more to global sea-level rise than ice sheets

Research by INSTAAR scientists shows that small glaciers and ice caps have been contributing more to rising sea levels in recent years than the large Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.

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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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David Anderson received Arthur S. Fleming Award

For exceptional scientific research, David Anderson received an award that recognizes excellence in the federal workforce.

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Earth’s past suggests polar melting may raise sea level sooner than expected

Gifford Miller was a member of two research teams that combined paleoclimate evidence from the Last Interglacial period with climate and ice sheet modeling to infer that Earth's warming temperatures are on track to melt the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets sooner than previously thought and ultimately lead to a global sea level rise of at least 20 feet.

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Alaska’s Columbia Glacier continues on disintegration course

Tad Pfeffer (INSTAAR and CEAE) leads a research group that has documented the rapid tidewater retreat of the Columbia Glacier in Alaska, one of the fastest moving glaciers in the world.

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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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Ancient diets of Australian birds point to big ecosystem changes

Gifford Miller led an international team to discover that the diet of two flightless birds inhabiting Australia shifted soon after humans arrived ca. 50,000 years ago, coincident with a rapid and dramatic shift in the ecosystem's flora. Their discovery is the best evidence yet that early humans may have altered the continent's interior with fire, changing it from a mosaic of trees, shrubs, and grasses to the desert scrub evident today.

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Arid Australian interior linked to landscape burning by ancient humans

Landscape burning by ancient hunters and gatherers may have triggered the failure of the annual Australian Monsoon some 12,000 years ago, resulting in the desertification of the country's interior that is evident today, according to a new study.

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NSF awards CU-Boulder $4.9 million for alpine ecosystem research

An intensive University of Colorado at Boulder project charting long-term ecological changes in the high mountains of Colorado will continue for at least six more years as a result of a $4.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

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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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Global warming threatens alpine plants

Vera Markgraf was an invited lecturer at a week-long international summer school concentrating on “Climate Change: Impacts on Terrestrial Ecosystems.”

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NASA funds CU-Boulder study of changes In Earth’s glacier systems

Researchers at the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder will receive $1.8 million from NASA to compile an online database of the world's glaciers that combines historical records with measurements from the latest technologies in satellite remote sensing.

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Melting glaciers and permafrost disclose archaeological discoveries

E. James Dixon recorded an interview with National Public Radio (NPR) in January about the research that he and William Manley are conducting on the archaeological potential of snow and ice.

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Diatoms on TV

Sarah Spaulding appeared on the Court TV special "Digging for Clues" on December 14, 2002.

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John Andrews honored with special sessions at Geological Society of America Annual Meeting

The Geological Society of America honored John Andrews' tremendous impact on the Quaternary sciences at the annual meeting with two special sessions entitled "Quaternary Sciences from Land to Sea: In Honor of John T. Andrews."

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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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CU-Boulder professor Mark Meier to receive Goldthwait Polar Medal

Mark Meier, one of the world's leading glaciologists, has been named the winner of the Goldthwait Polar Medal in recognition of his outstanding contributions to polar research.

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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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Sea-level changes: How Alaska affects the world

Mark Meier and Mark Dyurgerov have written a commentary for Science magazine that discusses the contributions of glacier melting in Alaska to global sea level rise.

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CU-Boulder researchers hunt for artifact-rich glaciers

CU-Boulder researchers hunt for artifact-rich glaciers

James Dixon, William Manley, and colleagues are generating excitement about the archaeological potential of glaciers and snowfields by using Geographic Information System (GIS) models to predict the locations of well-preserved artifacts exposed by recent melting in Alaska.

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Colorado alpine lakes show troubling changes

Diane McKnight, with colleagues including several graduate and undergraduate students, studied a high alpine lake in the Colorado Rockies that shows increased algal growth thought to be caused by changing climate and atmospheric nitrogen deposition from auto emissions and agricultural activity on the heavily populated Front Range.

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Aboriginal climate change

Gifford Miller was interviewed while doing fieldwork in Australia by INSTAAR affiliate Daniel Grossman for stories aired on National Public Radio and Radio Netherlands in March. Miller's studies indicate that Aborigines in Australia may have contributed to widespread climate change some 50,000 years ago

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Global sea levels likely to rise higher in 21st century than previously predicted

Mark Meier and Mark Dyurgerov calculate that global sea levels likely will rise more by the end of this century than predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2001.

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Antarctic climate cooling and terrestrial ecosystem response

A team led by Peter Doran (Univ of Illinois at Chicago) - including INSTAAR scientist Diane McKnight and INSTAAR affiliates Andrew Fountain and Gary Clow - discovered that continental Antarctica has generally cooled during the last 35 years. This cooling is unique among the Earth's continental landmasses, according to a paper published in the online version of Nature. Continental Antarctic cooling, especially the seasonality of cooling, poses challenges to models of climate and ecosystem change.

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Science team studying environmental problems on Alaska’s North Slope

James Syvitski, William Manley, Mark Dyurgerov, and Scott Peckham are participating in an extensive research project "Alaska North Slope Climate Impact Assessment." Led by CU-Boulder's Amanda Lynch, the project is designed to better understand, support and enhance local decision-making processes in the face of climate variability and potential environmental disasters.

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Vikings set sail from the Smithsonian

Astrid Ogilvie participated in a Smithsonian traveling exhibition on Viking exploration.

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Colorado’s drought plan considers paleoclimatic record

Connie Woodhouse was cited in the recently published Colorado Drought Mitigation and Response Plan for her dendroclimatological work showing persistent periods of drought lasting longer than droughts in the instrumental record.

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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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A river of ice: Scientists study Greenland’s role in sea level rise

Der Spiegel follows Bruce Vaughn to the East Greenland Ice Core Project (EGRIP) to understand the accelerating melting of Greenland's ice cap and its connection with sea level change.

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The Melt: ECO interviews Kerry Koepping

Environment Coastal & Offshore interviews noted photographer and INSTAAR affiliate Kerry Koepping about his mission to immerse people in the visual reality of Arctic climate change.

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What pikas and alpine plants tell us about climate change

12 undergraduate students are conducting field research in the dramatic alpine setting above Nederland, looking at response of pikas to climate change and counting 400-year old plants, among other alpine ecology topics. They are participating in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program at CU Boulder.

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How much carbon will Earth absorb in future?

High levels of uncertainty in the prediction of terrestrial carbon uptake are making it difficult to forecast the true impact that activities such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation will have on atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. Now, researchers have compared the output of 12 Earth system models and found differences in carbon flux of more than 160 Pg by the end of the century.

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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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Events

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