January 27th, 2017The recent “atmospheric river” weather pattern that pummeled California with storms from late December to late January may have recouped 37 percent of the state’s five-year snow-water deficit, according to new University of Colorado Boulder-led research.
January 17th, 2017As 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.
August 13th, 2016Thunderstorms 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.
March 4th, 2016A 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.
July 14th, 2015Biogeochemist Eve-Lyn Hinckley, who was a postdoctoral fellow at INSTAAR from 2009 to 2011, has returned to CU as an assistant professor for INSTAAR and the Environmental Studies program. Hinckley will teach three courses annually, conduct research on sulfur and nitrogen in ecosystems, and eventually take over as director of INSTAAR’s Kiowa Lab, an environmental chemistry laboratory for the Niwot Ridge Long-Term Ecological Research Program.
December 15th, 2014INSTAAR 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.
March 28th, 2014The American Chemical Society (ACS) has selected a new study that looks at air quality impacts from fracking emissions as an “Editor’s Choice.” The paper, by the scientists of INSTAAR’s Atmospheric Research Lab, has been made available to the public for free as an open-access paper.
December 5th, 2013INSTAAR 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.
November 20th, 2013The 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.
January 22nd, 2013Hana Fancher didn't wait for graduation to change the world. The undergraduate developed her own research project studying methane emissions from palm oil plantation wastewater ponds—a project that encouraged the plantation to build an anaerobic digester to power its processing and reduce greenhouse gases.
August 23rd, 2012Increased capture of natural gas from oil fields may account for up to 70 percent of the dramatic leveling off seen in atmospheric methane at the end of the 20th century, according to new research on a related gas, ethane. The study was published in Nature today by INSTAAR Fellow Detlev Helmig and colleagues from University of California, Irvine and NOAA.
July 6th, 2012Nitrogen compounds from power plants, automobiles, and agriculture is creating air pollution that is changing the alpine vegetation in Rocky Mountain National Park, says a new study by INSTAAR Fellow William Bowman and colleagues.
April 19th, 2012A 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.
March 15th, 2011INSTAAR 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.
May 20th, 2010Detlev 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."
April 10th, 2010Detlev 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.
April 23rd, 2009Vasilii 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.
May 17th, 2008Alan Townsend and other members of the International Nitrogen Initiative (INI) North American Nitrogen Center have published a review of human influence on the global nitrogen cycle in Science.
November 23rd, 2007Detlev Helmig was invited to teach a course on monitoring of atmospheric volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to an international group of scientists, including participants from several eastern European countries, Algeria, Kenya, and Indonesia.
June 1st, 2007Tom Marchitto, Scott Lehman, Jaqueline Flückiger, and colleagues have identified a mechanism for the enormous carbon dioxide increase in Earth's atmosphere at the end of the last ice age: abrupt changes in deep ocean circulation. The team analyzed sediment cores from the North Pacific, discovering two large CO2 "burps."
November 6th, 2006Members of INSTAAR's Atmospheric Resarch Lab have worked with colleagues to obtain the first ship-borne direct measurements of ozone fluxes to the ocean.
June 21st, 2006Cory 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.
November 5th, 2005Humans 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.
October 15th, 2005Shelly 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.
September 15th, 2004A new, undisturbed Greenland ice deep-core record going back 123,000 years shows the Eemian period prior to the last glacial period was slightly warmer than the present day before it gradually cooled and sent Earth into an extended deep freeze.
June 9th, 2004Recovery of a new ice core in Antarctica that extends back 740,000 years--nearly twice as long as any other ice core record--will help scientists better understand the Earth's climate and issues related to global warming, according to INSTAAR Jim White.
June 1st, 2004INSTAAR 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.
February 15th, 2004Tim 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.
September 4th, 2003A new University of Colorado at Boulder study has shown that microbes living under the tundra snow pack ramp up their populations in late winter, a finding with implications for changing estimates of carbon dioxide levels in Earth's atmosphere.
October 30th, 2002The 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.
July 24th, 2002Research 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.
March 10th, 2002David Anderson and David Archer (Univ Chicago) have reconstructed carbonate-ion concentration—and hence pH—of the glacial oceans, using the extent of calcium carbonate dissolution observed in foraminifer faunal assemblages.
In The News
May 15th, 2018Preliminary results from an automated emissions monitoring system at the Boulder Reservoir indicate a strong correlation between air quality in the area and oil and natural gas development in neighboring Weld County, with northeasterly winds consistently bringing higher levels of ethane, propane and methane that are not attributable to urban emissions or vehicles. The project, which is sponsored by Boulder County Public Health and led by researchers from INSTAAR in partnership with the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment (CDPHE), installed the first automated system of its kind in the Rocky Mountain region that provides valuable real-time information through hourly postings on a public website for residents and policymakers alike.
May 10th, 2018A new study led by researchers at the Colorado School of Public Health and including an INSTAAR researcher concludes that the air quality around oil and gas wells places those who live next door at an increased risk of developing cancer, but a state health official said Monday that more testing is needed to better understand what is happening.
March 21st, 2018In their CU Boulder lab, research scientists Dirk Richter and Petter Weibring were busy building lasers to detect gasses when Richter heard about a contest being held by the Environmental Defense Fund. The EDF was looking for ways to detect leaks of invisible, odorless methane gas from things like oil and natural gas wells. The two engineers—Richter is originally from Germany and Weibring from Sweden—formed the company Quanta3 to develop their idea.
March 14th, 2018In this guest essay for the Daily Camera, Harv Teitelbaum describes spikes in Atmospheric Research Lab observations of volatile organic compound (VOC) measurements, and potential links to natural gas venting events at fracking sites.
January 17th, 2018Trapped in ocean sediments near continents lie ancient reservoirs of methane called methane hydrates. These ice-like water and methane structures encapsulate so much methane that many researchers view them as both a potential energy resource and an agent for environmental change. In response to warming ocean waters, hydrates can degrade, releasing the methane gas. Scientists have warned that release of even part of the giant reservoir could significantly exacerbate ongoing climate change. A team of scientists set out to fingerprint the origin of methane in the Arctic Ocean and found that much of the released methane never makes it to the atmosphere.
August 14th, 2017A 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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