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Mongabay.com news articles on climate science in blog format. Updated regularly.









Congo rainforest was dry savanna 25,000 years ago

(03/25/2007) Scientists from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research and University of Bremen in Germany have created the first detailed temperature record for tropical central Africa over the past 25,000 years. Their results confirm the thought that the Congo basin has been considerably drier than it is today.


China may top U.S. in greenhouse gas emissions in 2007

(03/23/2007) China's carbon dioxide emissions may exceed those of the United States in 2007, making the country the world's largest greenhouse gas polluter, according to analysis of Chinese energy data.


Global warming may cause biodiversity extinction

(03/21/2007) Extinction is a hotly debated, but poorly understood topic in science. The same goes for climate change. When scientists try to forecast the impact of global change on future biodiversity levels, the results are contentious, to say the least. While some argue that species have managed to survive worse climate change in the past and that current threats to biodiversity are overstated, many biologists say the impacts of climate change and resulting shifts in rainfall, temperature, sea levels, ecosystem composition, and food availability will have significant effects on global species richness.


Past winter (2006-2007) was warmest on record

(03/16/2007) This winter was the warmest on record according to the U.S. government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA also reported that precipitation was above average in much of the United States.


Global warming reduced crop yields over past 20 years

(03/16/2007) Global warming has already caused crop losses according to a new study by researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Carnegie Institution at Stanford University. The study, published March 16 in the online journal Environmental Research Letters, shows that warming temperatures have reduced the combined production of wheat, corn, and barley by 40 million metric tons per year between 1981-2002. The authors, David Lobell of Lawrence Livermore and Christopher Field of the Carnegie Institution, estimate the annual losses at $5 billion.


Earth may be near global warming tipping point

(03/15/2007) Earth could be reaching a tipping point that could trigger rapid climate change according to scientists studying declining sea ice in the Arctic.


Melting Antarctic glaciers could trigger sea level rise

(03/15/2007) Scientists have identified four melting Antarctic glaciers that could trigger a rapid rise in global sea levels according to a study published in the journal Science.


UK to cut CO2 emissions by 60%

(03/13/2007) Tony Blair pledged Wednesday to cut Britain's carbon dioxide emissions by 60 percent by 2050 in an effort to fight global warming. In announcing the Climate Change Bill, Britain becomes the first country to set legally binding targets.


Biodiversity extinction crisis looms says renowned biologist

(03/12/2007) While there is considerable debate over the scale at which biodiversity extinction is occurring, there is little doubt we are presently in an age where species loss is well above the established biological norm. Extinction has certainly occurred in the past, and in fact, it is the fate of all species, but today the rate appears to be at least 100 times the background rate of one species per million per year and may be headed towards a magnitude thousands of times greater. Few people know more about extinction than Dr. Peter Raven, director of the Missouri Botanical Garden. He is the author of hundreds of scientific papers and books, and has an encyclopedic list of achievements and accolades from a lifetime of biological research. These make him one of the world's preeminent biodiversity experts. He is also extremely worried about the present biodiversity crisis, one that has been termed the sixth great extinction.


Bush administration issues gag order on polar bear discussions

(03/08/2007) The Bush administration has banned discussion of polar bears, sea ice, and global warming among officials traveling overseas according to environmental groups and the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


Carbon dioxide levels threaten oceans regardless of global warming

(03/08/2007) Rising levels of carbon dioxide will have wide-ranging impacts on the world's oceans regardless of climate change, reports a study published in the March 9, 2007, issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters.


Global warming causing disappearance of tundra in Canada

(03/05/2007) Tundra in northern Canada is being replaced at a rapid rate by boreal forests according to a new study published in the Journal of Ecology. Researchers say global warming is to blame.


Ozone ban has been more effective in fighting global warming than Kyoto Protocol

(03/05/2007) The 1987 Montreal Protocol, which restricted the use of ozone-depleting substances, has helped slow the rate of global warming in addition to protecting the ozone layer, report scientists writing in a paper published online in the early edition of PNAS.


Asian pollution causes stronger thunderstorms, may worsen global warming

(03/05/2007) Growing levels of pollution in Asia are altering the chemistry of the atmosphere and causing a change in Pacific storm patterns according to researchers writing in the online early edition of PNAS


Coral species may help fight global warming impact

(03/04/2007) While many coral species appear to be potentially doomed by global warming, some species may help fight the impact of climate change, in effect helping protect coral reef ecosystems, argues a Cornell University biologist.


U.S. GHG emissions to rise 20% by 2020

(03/03/2007) The United States expects to emit 19 percent more greenhouse gases in 2020 than it did in 2020 according to a report from the Associated Press. The draft report, which is still in progress and is more than a year late, projects 9.2 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2020, a 19 percent increase from 7.7 billion tons in 2000, if the Bush Administration climate policy proceeds as planned.


Role of global warming in extinction may be overestimated

(03/01/2007) Extinction is a hotly debated, but poorly understood topic in science. The same goes for climate change. When you bring the two together to forecast the impact of global change on biodiversity, chaos reigns. While many ecologists argue that climate change could well doom many more species to extinction, others say that the threat is overstated.


Global warming is causing stronger Atlantic hurricanes finds new study

(03/01/2007) Global warming is fueling stronger hurricanes according to a new Geophysical Research Letters study that revises that database of historic hurricanes. Previously the hurricane database was considered inconsistent for measuring the record of tropical storms since there have been significant improvements in the technology to measure storms since recording-keeping began. Before the development of weather satellites, scientists relied on ship reports and sailor logs to record storms. The advent of weather satellites in the 1960s improved monitoring, but records from newer technology have never been squared with older data. The new study normalizes the hurricane record since 1983.


Climate change will worsen species extinction in South America

(02/28/2007) The combination of rising levels of carbon dioxide and increasing deforestation could reduce biodiversity in the tropical forests of Northern South America, reports a study published in the current edition of the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography.


Global warming could trigger 8-degree temperature rise in Amazon rainforest

(02/28/2007) Tuesday the Brazilian government announced the release of a series of scientific studies, including one by the national space agency (INPE) that projects a 4 to 8 degree-Celcius rise in temperatures in the Amazon Basin by 2100 if nothing is done to combat global climate change.


Melting ice reveals unknown species in Antarctica

(02/26/2007) An expedition to an area of seabed recently exposed by melting ice in Antarctica has discovered several previously unknown species of marine life, including deep sea lilies, gelatinous sea squirts, glass sponges, amphipod crustaceans, and orange starfish. The findings were announced Sunday by the Census of Antarctic Marine Life, a 10-year effort to map the biodiversity of the world's oceans.


Global warming, cod collapse cause changes in Atlantic ecosystem

(02/22/2007) North Atlantic ecosystems are undergoing rapid change due to overfishing and global warming reports a Cornell University oceanographer in the February 23 issue of the journal Science. Charles Greene, director of the Ocean Resources and Ecosystems Program in Cornell's Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, says that while other scientists have argued that ecosystem change is the result of the population crash of cod, be has found evidence that climate change is playing a significant role in the region.


Carbon offset schemes damage environment says report

(02/21/2007) Existing carbon offset schemes are confusing and may be damaging the environment rather than helping fight climate change says a new report by the Transnational Institute, a Dutch pressure group that runs carbontradewatch.org.


Largest firms to cut global warming emissions

(02/20/2007) More than 100 top executives from the private sector and leaders of international governmental and non-governmental organizations unveileved a plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions. They said governments need to take immediate steps to stop global warming.


Climate change is a "threat to society" says largest scientific body

(02/18/2007) The world's largest scientific society today voiced concern over global warming, calling it a "threat to society." It was the first consensus statement of the board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) on climate change. The announcement comes sixteen days after the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its most recent report on global change.


Largest tropical glacier retreating at 200 feet per year in Peru

(02/18/2007) Peru's largest glacier is melting rapidly and could complete disappear by 2012 says a glaciologist from Ohio State University. Speaking at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco last week, Dr. Lonnie Thompson said that Peru's Qori Kalis glacier is melting at a rate of some 60 meters (200 feet) per year. Qori Kalis glacier is part of the Quelccaya Ice Cap, the largest body of ice in the tropics.


Global warming could cause Canadian forests to absorb more carbon

(02/18/2007) Researchers say they have found links between seasonal temperature changes and the uptake and loss of carbon dioxide.


Past climate change may have fried rainforests

(02/18/2007) Three hundred million years ago, Earth's climate shifted dramatically from icehouse to hothouse, with major environmental consequences. That shift was the result of both rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and the melting of vast ice sheets, new research by University of Michigan paleoclimatologist Christopher Poulsen shows.


Global research network needed to understand changes in the Arctic

(02/17/2007) A worldwide research network is needed to better understand how climate change is affecting the Arctic, says an Ohio State University geologist.


America needs to plan for global warming-induced drought

(02/16/2007) Models suggest that climate change is likely to produce increased incidence of summer droughts in the western United States. Researchers from Oregon State University say that now is the time to prepare for potential catastrophe.


Americans believe in global warming but don't want to make changes

(02/16/2007) Most Americans believe global warming is real but view it as a distant threat according to comments by Anthony Leiserowitz, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Oregon, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco.


Water forecasts in Western U.S. have not improved in 40 years

(02/16/2007) Water supply predictions for the western United States are no better now than they were in the 1960s -- something that should be of particular concern as the effects of climate change become increasingly apparent -- say researchers from the University of Washington (UW).


Antarctic Peninsula warming affects penguins, krill

(02/15/2007) While much of Antarctica has cooled over the past decade, a warming trend in the Antarctic Peninsula may indicate what the future holds for the rest of the icy continent's wildlife. Researchers at Ohio State University say that higher temperatures have already forced penguin populations to migrate south and may have reduced the availability of krill that serve as the based of the Antarctic food chain.


Antarctic temperatures are not rising

(02/15/2007) Temperatures in Antarctica are not rising as predicted by many climate models, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco. David Bromwich, researcher with the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University, reports that his work has found no increase in precipitation over Antarctica in the last 50 years. Most climate models predict that precipitation and temperature will increase over Antarctica as the planet warms.


Global warming may worsen droughts in U.S. Southwest, Middle East

(02/14/2007) A new NASA study says that global warming could increase droughts in southwest United States, Mexico, parts of North Africa, the Middle East, and Australia -- areas already stressed by periodic water shortages.


2006 was fifth warmest year on record

(02/13/2007) Last week NASA scientists announced that 2006 was the fifth-warmest year in the past century, after 2005, 1998, 2002, and 2003 (in descending order by warmest year).


Global cooling may have spawned complex life on Earth

(02/13/2007) Icy conditions some 600-800 million years ago may have set the stage for the evolution of more complex lifeforms, according to research published in the February 14, 2007 edition of PLoS ONE. The theory may have implications for life on other planets.


$25 million prize to fight global warming

(02/12/2007) Friday Sir Richard Branson and Al Gore announced the establishment of a $25 million prize for the development of a technology that fights global warming by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The prize follows in the footsteps of the X Prize, a contest that was won by the SpaceShipOne rocket plane as the first privately developed craft to reach the boundary of outer space.


North America hit by sudden, severe climate cooling 65 M years ago

(02/07/2007) The largest climate change in central North America since the age of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, a temperature drop of nearly 15 degrees Fahrenheit, is documented within the fossilized teeth of horses and other plant-eating mammals, a new study reveals.


Extinction risk accelerated when interacting human threats interact

(02/07/2007) A new study warns that the simultaneous effect of habitat fragmentation, overexploitation, and climate warming could increase the risk of a species' extinction.


Carbon dioxide could be frozen and stored to fight global warming

(02/07/2007) Carbon dioxide could be frozen and stored huge underground reservoirs as a way to fight global warming according to scientists from the University of Leicester and the British Geological Society (BGS).


Societies must adapt to global warming, mitigation alone is not the answer

(02/07/2007) Mankind must prepare for global warming by building resilient societies and fostering sustainable development, says a team scientists writing in the current issue of the journal Nature. The researchers say climate change is inevitable and policymakers should be plan adaptation strategies to minimize the negative impacts of future environmental stresses on society.


Lemurs at risk due to invasion of feral beasts, global warming

(02/07/2007) The lemurs of Madagascar are among the world's most threatened primates. Extensive habitat destruction, hunting, and the introduction of alien species have doomed dozens of species to extinction since humans first arrived on the island within the past 2000 years. Most of the casualties were Madagascar's largest lemurs -- today the biggest lemur is but a fraction of the gorilla-sized giants that once ruled the island. Despite this relative impoverishment of megafauna, Madagascar still boasts nearly 90 kinds of lemurs, all of which are unique to the island (save one species that was probably introduced to some nearby islands). Lemurs display a range of unusual behvaiors from singing like a whale (the indri) to sashaying across the sand like a ballet dancer (the sifaka). Interest in lemurs has helped Madagascar become a global conservation priority, though they are still at risk. Continued deforestation, scattered hunting, and looming climate change all pose significant threats to some lemur populations. One largely unexamined threat comes from introduced species such as the Indian civet and mongoose, but especially dogs and cats that have become feral.


Brazil calls out rich countries on global warming

(02/06/2007) Reuters reports that Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva criticized wealthy countries for their contributions to global warming and told them to stay out of Brazil's business when it comes to the fate of the Amazon rainforest.


Just how bad is the biodiversity extinction crisis?

(02/06/2007) In recent years, scientists have warned of a looming biodiversity extinction crisis, one that will rival or exceed the five historic mass extinctions that occurred millions of years ago. Unlike these past extinctions, which were variously the result of catastrophic climate change, extraterrestrial collisions, atmospheric poisoning, and hyperactive volcanism, the current extinction event is one of our own making, fueled mainly by habitat destruction and, to a lesser extent, over-exploitation of certain species. While few scientists doubt species extinction is occurring, the degree to which it will occur in the future has long been subject of debate in conservation literature. Looking solely at species loss resulting from tropical deforestation, some researchers have forecast extinction rates as high as 75 percent. Now a new paper, published in Biotropica, argues that the most dire of these projections may be overstated. Using models that show lower rates of forest loss based on slowing population growth and other factors, Joseph Wright from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and Helene Muller-Landau from the University of Minnesota say that species loss may be more moderate than the commonly cited figures. While some scientists have criticized their work as "overly optimistic," prominent biologists say that their research has ignited an important discussion and raises fundamental questions about future conservation priorities and research efforts. This could ultimately result in more effective strategies for conserving biological diversity, they say.


Global warming report released in Paris

(02/02/2007) The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) officially unveiled its long-waited report on global climate change. The report was produced by some 600 authors from 40 countries and representatives from 113 governments reviewed and signed off on the report the course of this week.


Sea levels rising at fastest rate on record

(02/01/2007) A group of prominent scientists criticized the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) climate report due to be released Friday. Writing in Friday's issue of the journal Science, the scientists say the IPCC report understates the risk of rising sea levels by accounting for melting ice in Antarctica and Greenland.


Global warming may be beneficial to some fishermen

(02/01/2007) Climate change may be a boon to fisheries off northwestern Africa according to research published in Friday's issue of the journal Science. Lead by Dr. Helen McGregor, a paleoclimatologist at the University of Bremen's Research Center Ocean Margins in Germany, a team of scientists using data from sediment cores linked coastal upwelling off the coast of Morocco to 20th century climate warming. The results are significant because coastal upwelling zones, where nutrient-rich waters rise to the ocean's surface, yield roughly 20 percent of the world's fish harvest but represent less than one percent of the world ocean surface area.


Temperature record for Midwest shows impact of global warming

(01/29/2007) Researchers have developed a new method to create a temperature record for the Great Plains region of the United States. The model, based on analysis of ancient soils, could help predict the impact of global warming on American agricultural production.


Caves may reveal if global warming is causing stronger hurricanes

(01/29/2007) Scientists have shown that cave formations could help settle the contentious debate on whether hurricanes are strengthening in intensity due to global warming. Measuring oxygen isotope variation in stalagmites in Actun Tunichil Muknal cave in central Belize, a team of researchers have identified evidence of rainfall from 11 tropical cyclones over a 23 year period (1978-2001). The research -- the study of ancient storms is called paleotempestology -- could help create a record of hurricanes that would help researchers understand hurricane frequency and intensity. "Tropical cyclones (including hurricanes, tropical storms, typhoons, and cyclones) produce rainwater that is different from other summertime precipitation," explained Amy Benoit Frappier, an assistant professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Boston College and lead author of the study published in Geology. "Tropical cyclones produce isotopically light rainwater primarily because 1) their cloud tops are very high and cold, and 2) their humid air tends to prevent lighter water molecules from evaporating back out of the raindrop as they fall."



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