December 14th, 2009Parts of Alaska's northern coastline are eroding at rates of 35 to 40 feet a year, with great chunks of the tundra cleaving off the mainland and falling into the Beaufort Sea, according to a new study led by the University of Colorado. "As one that gets pretty excited about centimeter-a-year rates, this was pretty eye-popping," said Robert Anderson, a professor of geological sciences at CU and co-author of the study.
December 14th, 2009The northern coastline of Alaska midway between Point Barrow and Prudhoe Bay is eroding by up to one-third the length of a football field annually because of a "triple whammy" of declining sea ice, warming seawater and increased wave activity, according to new study led by the University of Colorado at Boulder. The conditions have led to the steady retreat of 30 to 45 feet a year of the 12-foot-high bluffs--frozen blocks of silt and peat containing 50 to 80 percent ice--which are toppled into the Beaufort Sea during the summer months by a combination of large waves pounding the shoreline and warm seawater melting the base of the bluffs, said INSTAAR Robert Anderson, a co-author on the study. Once the blocks have fallen, the coastal seawater melts them in a matter of days, sweeping the silty material out to sea.
October 19th, 2009When Yarrow Axford, a researcher at the University of Colorado, traveled to a remote lake on the east coast of Baffin Island -- which sits a few hundred miles west of Greenland -- the area seemed pristine and untouched by human hands. But when Axford, who works at the Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research, started examining the sediment layered beneath the 100-acre lake, she noticed that something was missing. Two species of tiny, cold-loving bugs that had made the lake their home for tens of thousands of year had disappeared, apparently the victims of rising global temperatures.
October 19th, 2009An analysis of sediment cores indicates that biological and chemical changes occurring at a remote Arctic lake are unprecedented over the past 200,000 years and likely are the result of human-caused climate change, according to a new study led by the University of Colorado at Boulder. While environmental changes at the lake over the past millennia have been shown to be tightly linked with natural causes of climate change -- like periodic, well-understood wobbles in Earth's orbit -- changes seen in the sediment cores since about 1950 indicate expected climate cooling is being overridden by human activity like greenhouse gas emissions. The research team reconstructed past climate and environmental changes at the lake on Baffin Island using indicators that included algae, fossil insects and geochemistry preserved in sediment cores that extend back 200,000 years.
September 28th, 2009Against the backdrop of last week's Clinton Global Initiative and Climate Week NYC, and on the heels of the University of Colorado at Boulder last month being named the No. 1 "green" university in the nation by Sierra Magazine, CU-Boulder today launched a new online tool that localizes climate change for Colorado through a series of educational videos and resources. LearnMoreAboutClimate.colorado.edu explains how climate change is affecting Colorado and offers ways residents can contribute to solutions. The initiative involves CU-Boulder faculty and national institute scientists and is coordinated by the Office for University Outreach in the Division of Continuing Education and Professional Studies.
September 21st, 2009Twenty-four of the thirty-three deltas in the world are sinking, and many of these are in India. This alarming finding comes from a study of the world’s deltas using satellite data. The results were published online in the journal Nature Geoscience. The study found that most of the deltas are “sinking at rates many times faster than global sea level rise.”