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Meteorite or Volcano? New Clues to the Dinosaurs’ Demise

Twin calamities marked the end of the Cretaceous period, and scientists (including INSTAAR Julio Sepulvéda) are presenting new evidence of which drove one of Earth’s great extinctions in this New York Times story.

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Volcanic gas bursts probably didn’t kill off the dinosaurs

Massive gas bursts emitted by volcanoes about 66 million years ago probably couldn’t have caused a mass extinction event that spelled doom for all nonbird dinosaurs, suggests a new study. Data on ancient temperatures, combined with simulations of the shifting carbon cycle in the ocean, lend support to the hypothesis that a giant asteroid impact—not toxic gases emitted by Deccan Traps eruption—was primarily responsible for the die-off. The study, which included INSTAAR Julio Sepulvéda among its authors, was published January 17 in Science.

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Fed by human-caused erosion, many river deltas are growing

Deforestation and river damming are changing the shape of these landforms around the globe, finds a new study. The authors, including INSTAAR Albert Kettner, examined 10,848 deltas to quantify humans’ impact. Three primary forces shape deltas: rivers delivering sediment; tides pushing or pulling sediment; and waves redistributing sediment along the coast. Humans exert a lot of control over how much sediment a river carries: While deforestation feeds the flow of soil, dams plug it up.

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Long-lost landscapes, frozen for 40,000 years, exposed by melting Arctic ice

Parts of Baffin Island haven't seen the light of day for millennia — but that's rapidly changing. A study published January 2019 in Nature Communications describes what the emerging landscape looks like now — and what it means for the rest of the world. This is #16 on Inverse’s 20 most incredible stories about our planet from 2019.

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Wildfire residue may contribute to climate change

The charred remains of wildfires in waterways could release carbon dioxide long after the blaze has died. A new study by Jessica Egan, presented at AGU’s Fall Meeting, shows that burned leaf litter and other biomaterials can leach pyrogenic carbon into fresh water where it reacts with sunlight. That means pyrogenic carbon in our waterways could degrade into carbon dioxide faster than previously suggested, providing an unexpected source of this greenhouse gas to the atmosphere.

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The Arctic may have crossed key threshold, emitting billions of tons of carbon into the air

The Arctic is undergoing a profound, rapid and unmitigated shift into a new climate state, one that is greener, features far less ice and emits greenhouse gas emissions from melting permafrost, according to a major new federal assessment of the region released Tuesday. The consequences of these climate shifts will be felt far outside the Arctic in the form of altered weather patterns, increased greenhouse gas emissions and rising sea levels from the melting Greenland ice sheet and mountain glaciers. The findings are contained in the 2019 Arctic Report Card, a major federal assessment of climate change trends and impacts throughout the region. The study paints an ominous picture of a region lurching to an entirely new and unfamiliar environment.

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