Archive by category | Earth science

Why a climate crisis is like an epileptic seizure

Why a climate crisis is like an epileptic seizure

Tipping points – those critical thresholds in a complex system where a small nudge can cause a catastrophic response – are perhaps the most fearsome threats to the Earth’s climate, but they also haunt ecosystems, financial markets, and even sufferers of medical conditions such as epilepsy and asthma. A fascinating review in Nature today (subscription) sketches out the mathematical patterns on which many of these instances seem to be based, and describes giveaway signs that might warn us to change course before the system tips.  Read more

Q&A: Observing the scars of the Arctic thaw

Jane Qiu has an interesting interview on Nature News with aquatic ecologist Breck Bowden of the University of Vermont, who is heading up new research looking at what happens when thawing ground in the Arctic begins to fall apart. Here’s an excerpt:  … Read more

EGU: China’s carbon sink – it’s large

EGU: China’s carbon sink – it’s large

China’s forests, shrublands and soils have absorbed a third or so of China’s fossil fuel emissions from 1980 to 2000. Sequestering up to 260 million tonnes of carbon per year, the Chinese land sink is more than twice as large than that of geographic Europe, and comparable in size to that of the United States.  Read more

AGU 2008: Asteroid impacts and climate change: which is the greater threat?

What do Boston, London, New York, Frankfurt, San Francisco, and Paris have in common? They have all been destroyed by asteroid impacts—in the movies. The death toll was enormous in every case. Understandably, people are worried that such a catastrophe might actually occur within their lifetime.  Read more

Attn Obama: Earth science agency merger

There’s a line around the block to give advice to Barack Obama, the latest offering being a 400-page environmental policy paper backed by 29 NGOs (hat tip to Climate Progress). Amid the many recommendations, a proposed bureaucratic shake-up of US Earth science has also resurfaced.  Read more

One earth, one US agency

One earth, one US agency

The next US president should merge two huge government research agencies to bring forth a new independent and comprehensive Earth science body – that’s the idea put forth in a commentary by former agency heads in Science yesterday (subscription required). They call for NOAA and the USGS become a single Earth Systems Science Agency, ESSA.  Read more