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2020 rivals hottest year on record, pushing Earth closer to a critical climate threshold

The year 2020, which witnessed terrifying blazes from California to Siberia and a record number of tropical cyclones in the Atlantic, rivaled and possibly even equaled the hottest year on record, according to multiple scientific announcements Thursday. Experts said that another year as hot as 2016 coming so soon suggests a swift step up the climate escalator. And it implies that a momentous new temperature record - breaching the critical 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) warming threshold for the first time - could occur as soon as later this decade.

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Long-term emissions cuts are needed to slow ocean acidification

During the first half of 2020, global greenhouse gas emissions dropped by about nine percent in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak. People around the world reported seeing signs that “nature was healing” as a result of a steep decline in human activities such as transportation and production. However, a new study from UC Boulder has shown that the positive changes seen in natural ecosystems were not reflected throughout Earth’s oceans.

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Nice to Know podcast: Xmas Special 2020: Studying Climate Change at the North Pole with Bruce Vaughn

Climate change - we all know that it's happening, but how do we actually know this scientifically? Bruce Vaughn studies glaciers up at the North Pole, looking at ice cores to study how our climate has changed over the Earth's history. We talk about how this is done, and also how we are now entering uncharted territory of atmospheric CO2, warming, and what we as a species can do about it.

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Impacts of COVID-19 emissions reductions remain murky in the oceans

The COVID-19 pandemic resulting shutdowns resulted in a 9% drop in the greenhouse gas emissions at the root of climate change. Unfortunately, any silver lining from the pandemic remains murky in the oceans. INSTAAR researchers Nicole Lovenduski delved into the data and found no detectable slowing of ocean acidification due to COVID-19 emissions reductions. Even at emissions reductions four times the rate of those in the first half of 2020, the change would be barely noticeable. Lovenduski shared the results Friday, Dec. 11 at the American Geophysical Union 2020 Fall Meeting. The findings will also be submitted to the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

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8 CU Boulder faculty members become distinguished professors

With approval in November by the University of Colorado Board of Regents, the University of Colorado has introduced 12 newly designated distinguished professors, eight of whom are affiliated with the CU Boulder campus. INSTAAR researcher Katie Suding is among their number.

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Colorado mountains bouncing back from ‘acid rain’ impacts

A long-term trend of ecological improvement is appearing in the mountains west of Boulder. Researchers from CU Boulder have found that, thanks to vehicle emission regulations, Niwot Ridge is slowly recovering from increased acidity caused by vehicle emissions in Colorado’s Front Range. Their results show that nitric and sulfuric acid levels in the Green Lakes Valley region of Niwot Ridge have generally decreased over the past 30 years, especially since the mid-2000s.

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