In just a few decades shrubs in the Arctic tundra have turned into trees as a result of the warming Arctic climate, creating patches of forest which, if replicated across the tundra, would significantly accelerate global warming.
A group of scientists from around the world is warning that population growth, widespread destruction of natural ecosystems, and climate change may be driving Earth toward an irreversible change in the biosphere, a planet-wide tipping point that would have destructive consequences absent adequate preparation and mitigation.
A geoengineering solution to climate change could lead to significant rainfall reduction in Europe and North America, a team of European scientists concludes. The researchers studied how models of the Earth in a warm, CO2‑rich world respond to an artificial reduction in the amount of sunlight reaching the planet’s surface. The study is published today in Earth System Dynamics, an Open Access journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).
The projected disappearance of small glaciers* worldwide threatens to eliminate the water supply for numerous towns in valleys, such as the Ecuadorian capital Quito, fed by the rivers that flow down from the surrounding mountains. But retreating ice is also a threat to freshwater fauna. According to a study published in Nature Climate Change, the local and regional diversity of mountain aquatic fauna will be reduced considerably if predictions are realised. Until now, the impact of global thawing on biodiversity in watercourses had never been calculated in detail.
Researchers have found that between 2002 and 2010 the images and emotions that the American public associates with global warming shifted significantly. Four consecutive nationwide surveys found both increasing skepticism and growing alarm among respondents. The researchers assessed Americans’ “cognitive risk representations” including the words, thoughts, and images, and the positive or negative feelings the public associates with global warming. The study also measured the underlying values of egalitarianism and individualism, as well as a variety of political, social and demographic characteristics.
Quito, Ecuador, is not considered a global leader by most measures. But there is one way in which Quito is at the forefront of metropolises worldwide: in planning for climate change. For more than a decade, officials in Ecuador’s mountainous capital have been studying the effects of global warming on nearby melting glaciers, developing ways of dealing with potential water shortages and even organizing conferences on climate change for leaders of other Latin American cities.
Warmer water and reduced river flows in the United States and Europe in recent years have led to reduced production, or temporary shutdown, of several thermoelectric power plants. For instance, the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in Alabama had to shut down more than once last summer because the Tennessee River’s water was too warm to use it for cooling.
Prototype for MyVoice, a device that reads sign language and translates its motions into audible words. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Houston)
Too often, communication barriers exist between those who can hear and those who cannot. Sign language has helped bridge such gaps, but many people are still not fluent in its motions and hand shapes.
Thanks to a group of University of Houston students, the hearing impaired may soon have an easier time communicating with those who do not understand sign language. During the past semester, students in UH’s engineering technology and industrial design programs teamed up to develop the concept and prototype for MyVoice, a device that reads sign language and translates its motions into audible words. Recently, MyVoice earned first place among student projects at the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) — Gulf Southwest Annual Conference.
One idea for fighting global warming is to increase the amount of aerosols in the atmosphere, scattering incoming solar energy away from the Earth’s surface. But scientists theorize that this solar geoengineering could have a side effect of whitening the sky during the day. New research from Carnegie’s Ben Kravitz and Ken Caldeira indicates that blocking 2% of the sun’s light would make the sky three-to-five times brighter, as well as whiter. Their work is published June 1st in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.