Global monitoring shows regulated atmospheric pollutants are not decreasing

PFAS and VMS are man-made chemicals that have been used for decades in products that we all use on a daily basis, including personal care products, cookware, and food packing. However, there is growing evidence that these chemicals, which are widespread throughout the globe, can have negative impacts on living organisms and human health. A recent study compared concentrations of these chemicals in the atmosphere at sites across the world from 2009 to 2015. Their findings suggest that there has been a significant increase in PFAS in the atmosphere over this time period, while certain types of VMS chemicals also increased. Future monitoring efforts across the globe are necessary to determine the changes in these chemicals in the air we breathe.

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Trees, Tempests, and Time: What trees can tell us about weather in the past

For storms along the Gulf Coast, first-person recordings are only reliable for the past 150 years. But knowing more about when storms happened in the past helps us understand how the climate is changing and how to reduce storm risks for coastal communities. To do that, we have to use even more unusual records: tree rings.

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Voyage to Iceberg Alley

A couple of days ago, right around sunrise, we sailed out of the Straits of Magellan and into the southern Atlantic Ocean, bound for the Southern Ocean and the Antarctic waters known as Iceberg Alley. Giant petrels soared against a clear blue sky, and gentle waves rocked the ship—although we didn’t expect that to last! I am aboard the JOIDES Resolution, a research vessel and drilling ship, and we are intentionally sailing into some of the planet’s wildest seas and the area of greatest iceberg concentration in the Antarctic.

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Is the Planet Warming?

The Earth is warming. No climate scientist would disagree with that conclusion. Right?  Nevertheless, controversy persists. Some climate change deniers point to a “global warming hiatus” after 1998. And there’s that striking warm peak during WWII.  What’s with that? A new statistical analysis of temperature records addresses these and other questions that nag some who follow climate science. Statistical analysis may not seem sexy or easy, but the math in this article once again confirms profound climate realities facing humanity—and scientists.

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Climate Change Reduces Forest Regrowth After Wildfires

Forest are struggling to comeback after wildfires, but does anyone know why? A research team discovered climate change may be straining young saplings’ abilities to reestablish themselves after a wildfire. A warmer and drier climate does not provide the right temperature or water resources a sapling needs to regrow a forest. With wildfires growing larger and more intense, this issue needs to be addressed and extinguished to sustain our forests!

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George Washington: General, Founding Father, and … Ecologist?

Before George Washington became the military general and Founding Father we know today, he spent years traveling the wilderness and helping divide up land for colonial settlement. His meticulous notes about the natural landscapes have been preserved over time because of his later prominence as a political figure. Today, these documents can be used to reconstruct what forests looked like over 250 years ago.

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How Pre-Industrial Charcoal Changed the Soils Under Our Feet

Tragically, when some people look at the soil beneath our feet, they only see ‘dirt’. They are missing the fact that soils contribute so much to nature and our lives. But, what happens when humans alter soils from their natural state? Researchers from Cottbus, Germany, aimed to find out how charcoal production in the Northeastern US during the mid 1800s impacted the soils and ecology of the forests that we see today. Surprisingly, the answer is a little bit below the surface.

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Evidence from the sediment: Lake Baikal diatom community changes in response to shifting environmental conditions

Located in Siberia, Russia, Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world (Figure 1). Similar to other waterbodies around the world, both big and small, Lake Baikal is exhibiting changes in the community composition of its primary producers in response to climate change induced changes in surface temperatures and nutrient inputs. In this study, scientists examine community composition shifts in a group of primary producers known as diatoms and examine the influence of climate change on this shift.

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Is there space for nature in man-made jungle?

We humans are responsible for not just shaping existing environments, but for creating new ones as well. Urban and industrial areas can sometimes be seen as “unnatural” but new research has shown that a ton of new species want to be neighbors. On top of that- they’re thriving. Read on to learn more!

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Alaskan Megathrust Earthquakes: Sedimentary records provide new data and a look 2000 years into the past

In 1964, a historically unprecedented magnitude 9.2 earthquake struck the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. The earthquake prompted scientists to figure out that the Aleutians lie along a unique form of fault, now known as a “megathrust” fault. During a megathrust earthquake, large swaths of land suddenly rise or sink, depending on their location relative to the fault rupture. Over long periods of time, as tectonic plates slide under one another, compression causes the top plate to buckle and rise up along the coast. When enough energy is accumulated, a slip eventually occurs. In places that were being uplifted, the land suddenly falls a few meters as the strain is released, otherwise known as an earthquake. It has been thought that areas of uplift and subsidence remain constant, always rising or falling in exactly the same place with every earthquake. However, a recent study suggests that these areas are not constant, further complicating our understanding of how “megathrust” earthquakes occur.

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