California’s carbon mitigation efforts may be thwarted by climate change itself

Irvine, Calif., July 22, 2021 – To meet an ambitious goal of carbon neutrality by 2045, California’s policymakers are relying in part on forests and shrublands to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, but researchers at the University of California, Irvine warn that future climate change may limit the ecosystem’s ability to perform this service.

Catastrophic Sea-Level Rise from Antarctic Melting is Possible with Severe Global Warming

The Antarctic ice sheet is much less likely to become unstable and cause dramatic sea-level rise in upcoming centuries if the world follows policies that keep global warming below a key 2015 Paris climate agreement target, according to a Rutgers coauthored study. But if global warming exceeds the target – 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) – the risk of ice shelves around the ice sheet’s perimeter melting would increase significantly, and their collapse would trigger rapid Antarctic melting. That would result in at least 0.07 inches of global average sea-level rise a year in 2060 and beyond, according to the study in the journal Nature.

Rutgers Expert Available to Discuss Viral ‘Pandemics’ in Oceans

New Brunswick, N.J. (April 6, 2021) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick microbial oceanographer Kay D. Bidle is available for interviews on the persistent and profound impact of viral infections on algae in the oceans. These infections influence the Earth’s carbon cycle, which helps…

When using pyrite to understand Earth’s ocean and atmosphere: Think local, not global

Scientists have long used information from sediments at the bottom of the ocean to reconstruct the conditions in oceans of the past. But a study in Science Advances raises concerns about the common use of pyrite sulfur isotopes to reconstruct Earth’s evolving oxidation state. These signals aren’t the global fingerprint of oxygen in the atmosphere, according to new research from Washington University in St. Louis.

Fishes Contribute Roughly 1.65 Billion Tons of Carbon in Feces and Other Matter Annually

Scientists have little understanding of the role fishes play in the global carbon cycle linked to climate change, but a Rutgers-led study found that carbon in feces, respiration and other excretions from fishes – roughly 1.65 billion tons annually – make up about 16 percent of the total carbon that sinks below the ocean’s upper layers.

Bacteria and Algae Get Rides in Clouds

Human health and ecosystems could be affected by microbes including cyanobacteria and algae that hitch rides in clouds and enter soil, lakes, oceans and other environments when it rains, according to a Rutgers co-authored study.

Purported phosphine on Venus more likely to be ordinary sulfur dioxide, new study shows

A University of Washington-led team has revisited and comprehensively reinterpreted radio telescope observations underlying a 2019 claim of phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus. They report that sulfur dioxide, a common gas in the atmosphere of Venus, is likely what was detected instead of phosphine.

Up-trending farming and landscape disruptions threaten Paris climate agreement goals

Irvine, Calif., Jan. 27, 2021 — One of President Joe Biden’s first post-inauguration acts was to realign the United States with the Paris climate accord, but a new study led by researchers at the University of California, Irvine demonstrates that rising emissions from human land-use will jeopardize the agreement’s goals without substantial changes in agricultural practices.

UCI researchers: Climate change will alter the position of the Earth’s tropical rain belt

Irvine, Calif., Jan. 18, 2021 — Future climate change will cause a regionally uneven shifting of the tropical rain belt – a narrow band of heavy precipitation near the equator – according to researchers at the University of California, Irvine and other institutions. This development may threaten food security for billions of people.

Are we alone in the universe? UAH’s Dr. Gary Zank doesn’t think so

Are we alone in the universe? Research by Dr. Gary Zank at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), a part of the University of Alabama System, and collaborators from UAH and other institutions has helped to inform the search for planets that could harbor life.

Best Region For Life on Mars Was Far Below Surface

The most habitable region for life on Mars would have been up to several miles below its surface, likely due to subsurface melting of thick ice sheets fueled by geothermal heat, a Rutgers-led study concludes. The study, published in the journal Science Advances, may help resolve what’s known as the faint young sun paradox – a lingering key question in Mars science.

Atmospheric Rivers Help Create Massive Holes in Antarctic Sea Ice

Warm, moist rivers of air in Antarctica play a key role in creating massive holes in sea ice in the Weddell Sea and may influence ocean conditions around the vast continent as well as climate change, according to Rutgers co-authored research. Scientists studied the role of long, intense plumes of warm, moist air – known as atmospheric rivers – in creating enormous openings in sea ice. They focused on the Weddell Sea region of the Southern Ocean near Antarctica, where these sea ice holes (called polynyas) infrequently develop during the winter.

UCI, others see agriculture as major source of increase in atmospheric nitrous oxide

Irvine, Calif., Oct. 8, 2020­ – An international team of researchers – including Earth system scientists at the University of California, Irvine – recently completed the most thorough review yet of nitrous oxide from emission to destruction in the planet’s atmosphere. In addition to confirming that the 20 percent increase in the amount of the greenhouse gas since the start of the Industrial Revolution can be totally attributed to humans, the team expressed doubt about the ability to reduce emissions or mitigate their future impacts.

5G Wireless May Lead to Inaccurate Weather Forecasts

Upcoming 5G wireless networks that will provide faster cell phone service may lead to inaccurate weather forecasts, according to a Rutgers study on a controversial issue that has created anxiety among meteorologists.

How to Get a Handle on Carbon Dioxide Uptake by Plants

How much carbon dioxide, a pivotal greenhouse gas behind global warming, is absorbed by plants on land? It’s a deceptively complicated question, so a Rutgers-led group of scientists recommends combining two cutting-edge tools to help answer the crucial climate change-related question.

James Randerson, UCI professor of Earth system science, available to comment on western U.S. wildfires

Prof. Jim Randerson is a leading U.S. expert on human impacts on biogeochemical cycles, with particular empasis on climate and wildfires. A good summary of his research activities can be found here: https://sites.uci.edu/randersonlab/media/. Jim’s lab website: https://sites.uci.edu/randersonlab/. If you would…

Land Development in New Jersey Continues to Slow

Land development in New Jersey has slowed dramatically since the 2008 Great Recession, but it’s unclear how the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to fight societal and housing inequality will affect future trends, according to a Rutgers co-authored report. Between 2012 and 2015, 10,392 acres in the Garden State became urban land. That’s 3,464 acres a year – far lower than the 16,852 acres per year in the late 1990s and continuing the trend of decreasing urban development that began in the 2008 Great Recession.

Geoengineering is Just a Partial Solution to Fight Climate Change

Could we create massive sulfuric acid clouds that limit global warming and help meet the 2015 Paris international climate goals, while reducing unintended impacts? Yes, in theory, according to a Rutgers co-authored study in the journal Earth System Dynamics. Spraying sulfur dioxide into the upper atmosphere at different locations, to form sulfuric acid clouds that block some solar radiation, could be adjusted every year to keep global warming at levels set in the Paris goals. Such technology is known as geoengineering or climate intervention.

Geoengineering’s Benefits Limited for Apple Crops in India

Geoengineering – spraying sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere to combat global warming – would only temporarily and partially benefit apple production in northern India, according to a Rutgers co-authored study. But abruptly ending geoengineering might lead to total crop failure faster than if geoengineering were not done, according to the study – believed to be the first of its kind – in the journal Climatic Change.

Rutgers Climatologist Can Discuss Role of Snow in Climate System

New Brunswick, N.J. (June 15, 2020) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick Professor David A. Robinson is available for interviews on the role of snow in the climate system, snow variability and the extent of snow cover during the satellite era. “The extent of snow on…

Mangrove Trees Won’t Survive Sea-Level Rise by 2050 if Emissions Aren’t Cut

Mangrove trees – valuable coastal ecosystems found in Florida and other warm climates – won’t survive sea-level rise by 2050 if greenhouse gas emissions aren’t reduced, according to a Rutgers co-authored study in the journal Science. Mangrove forests store large amounts of carbon, help protect coastlines and provide habitat for fish and other species. Using sediment data from the last 10,000 years, an international team led by Macquarie University in Australia estimated the chances of mangrove survival based on rates of sea-level rise.

How Old are Whale Sharks? Nuclear Bomb Legacy Reveals Their Age

Nuclear bomb tests during the Cold War in the 1950s and 1960s have helped scientists accurately estimate the age of whale sharks, the biggest fish in the seas, according to a Rutgers-led study. It’s the first time the age of this majestic species has been verified. One whale shark was an estimated 50 years old when it died, making it the oldest known of its kind. Another shark was an estimated 35 years old.

Rutgers Expert Available to Discuss Australian Climate and Wildfires

New Brunswick, N.J. (Jan. 7, 2020) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick climatologist David A. Robinson is available for interviews on weather and climate conditions that have contributed to catastrophic wildfires in Australia. “The remarkable wildfire outbreak in Australia is a result of persistent drought…

Plant physiology will be major contributor to future river flooding, UCI study finds

Irvine, Calif., Oct. 21, 2019 – The next time a river overflows its banks, don’t just blame the rain clouds. Earth system scientists from the University of California, Irvine have identified another culprit: leafy plants. In a study published today in Nature Climate Change, the UCI researchers describe the emerging role of ecophysiology in riparian flooding.

Scientists Discover Key Factors in How Some Algae Absorb Solar Energy

Scientists have discovered how diatoms – a type of algae that produces 20 percent of the Earth’s oxygen – absorb solar energy for photosynthesis. The Rutgers University-led discovery, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could help lead to more efficient and affordable algae-based biofuels and combat climate change from fossil fuel burning.