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New analysis shows microbial sources fueling rise of atmospheric methane

The sudden and sustained rise in atmospheric levels of the potent greenhouse gas methane since 2007 has posed one of the most significant and pressing questions in climate research: Where is it coming from? The question has been the subject of intense scientific interest for a decade. Now a research team has tested the leading theories for surging methane levels by analyzing the stable carbon isotope ratios (δ13C-CH4) from methane captured in a large set of global air samples to determine if one of the theories is more feasible than the others. Their paper was published in the journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles.

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Longer growing season could transform the tundra

Across the tundra, warming temperatures are causing plants to stay greener longer and flower earlier—and that could reshape life there, according to new research led by INSTAARs. The findings, published today in Nature Communications, synthesized 30 years of experimental warming data from 18 different tundra sites across the globe and found that not only are leaves coming out earlier and staying on the plants longer in this critically understudied biome, but their reproductive cycles are not responding in the same way. This change could not only have cascading effects through the ecosystem, but could also change the balance of carbon between the land and the atmosphere.

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Slow research to understand fast change

The Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network has generated 40 years of careful, reliable science about the Earth's changing ecosystems, which may prove to be just what's needed in this rapidly shifting world. By harnessing decades of rich data, scientists are beginning to forecast future conditions and plan ways to manage, mitigate, or adapt to likely changes in ecosystems that will impact human economies, health and wellbeing.

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CU Boulder remains near top in 2020 global university rankings

CU Boulder's earth science and atmospheric science disciplines remained ranked No. 1 globally in ShanghaiRanking's report, the 2021 Global Ranking of Academic Subjects (GRAS). The university also scored highly in a dozen other academic categories in those rankings, highlighting the breadth of impactful CU Boulder research.

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A mysterious rise in methane levels is sparking global warming fears

In INSTAAR's Stable Isotope Lab lie rows of metal flasks holding clues to the cause of an alarming rise in a powerful greenhouse gas. They contain samples of air from around the world that Sylvia Michel‘s team of methane detectives analyse to reveal whether the gas came from burning fossil fuels and wood, or from wetlands and cow guts.

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Blazes that refuse to die: ‘Zombie fires’

With a changing climate, fires in far northern forests that smolder throughout winter and erupt again in spring could become more common.

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