News from UCAR Members

News from UCAR Members & Affiliates


A new study has found that powerful winds are removing massive amounts of snow from parts of Antarctica, potentially boosting estimates of how much the continent might contribute to sea level.

Powerful Antarctic winds strip away an estimated 80 billion tons of snow per year, according to a new study that is helping to update computer models. Photo: Ted Scambos/NSIDC

A new analysis of fire activity in Alaska's Yukon Flats finds that so many forest fires are occurring there that the area has become a net exporter of carbon to the atmosphere.

U. of I. professor Feng Sheng Hu led a study of carbon cycling and forest fires in the boreal forests of the Yukon Flats in Alaska. Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

By compiling meteorological wind data – derived from several sources – Cornell University and the Technical University of Denmark scientists have assembled the first full observational wind atlas of the Great Lakes.

Cornell's Paula Doubrawa stands atop a wind turbine at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Wind Technology Center in Colorado in August, where she was conducting research.

As mountain pine beetles and other insects chew their way through Western forests, forest fires might not seem far behind. Lands covered by dead trees appear ready to burst into flame

Landscape mosaic of fire and insect effects near the Metolius River, Central Oregon, 2007. Deeply charred trees were killed by insects in the decade prior to the B&B Complex Fire, which burned 90,000 acres in 2003. Another fire, the Warm Springs Lightning Complex, burns on the northern horizon. Although the insect damage may not increase wildfire likelihood, compound impacts are likely where the two disturbances overlap. (Photo by Garrett Meigs)

Rice University scientists are forging toward tunable carbon-capture materials with a new study that shows how chemical changes affect the abilities of enhanced buckyballs to confine greenhouse gases. 

A new study shows how huge influxes of fresh water into the North Atlantic Ocean from icebergs calving off North America during the last ice age had an unexpected effect – they increased the production of methane in Earth’s tropical wetlands.

Evidence from the highly detailed West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide ice core

Watching plants perform photosynthesis from space sounds like a futuristic proposal, but a new application of data from NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite may enable scientists to do just that. 

Artistic representation of an OCO-2 orbit track, covering vegetated areas and measuring Solar Induced Fluorescence (SIF).

A team led by environmental engineers from Drexel University are the first independent researchers to take a closer look at the air quality effects of natural gas extraction in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania. 

Using an Aerodyne Research, Inc. Mobile Laboratory and fence line tracer-release protocol, the team was able to measure emissions without having direct access to the sites.

During the summer of 2015, Penn State researchers are partnering with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) to investigate a major obstacle facing renewable energy — uncertainty in energy production due to atmospheric conditions like cloud cover or wind speed.

Guido Cervone makes adjustments to one of the National Center for Atmospheric Research’s Total Sky Imager machines. Cervone and his research team will spend three months at NCAR’s facilities in Boulder, Colorado, researching the uncertainties associated with renewable energy production.  Image:  Guido Cervone

Morocco will have one of the world’s first drought early warning systems that integrates several remotely sensed data sets from NASA and other U.S. agencies into a composite agricultural drought indicator.

Remote sensing experts and representatives of Morocco’s government worked together to create the Morocco Composite Drought Index.

A new study from an international team of scientists uncovered new information about the tiny, globetrotting organisms commonly used to reconstruct past climate conditions.

Electron micrograph of foraminifera.  Photo credit: Photo by NOAA, courtesy of Wiki Commons

While studying a ground-nesting bird population near El Reno, Okla., a University of Oklahoma-led research team found that stress during a severe weather outbreak in May 2013, had manifested itself into malformations in the growing feathers of young birds.

Grasshopper sparrow in the Columbia Bottom Conservation Area, Missouri.  Photograph by Andy Reago and Chrissy McClarren.

It is no surprise that Arctic sea ice is thinning. What is new is just how long, how steadily, and how much it has declined. 

On June 5, 2001, the USS Scranton surfaced at the North Pole through almost four feet of ice. The new study uses submarine records to help track decades of thinning. U.S. Navy

A powerful method for analyzing and predicting nature’s dynamic and interconnected systems is now providing new forecasting and management tools for Canada’s premier fishery.

Mature Sockeye Salmon approach their spawning grounds in the Fraser watershed, British Columbia, Canada. Credit: Shane Kalyn

Rejoice icicle lovers. Dr. Freeze has delivered his magnum opus. Stephen Morris, a professor of physics at the University of Toronto, does not call himself Dr. Freeze. But by his own admission, he is obsessed with icicles.

Dr. Stephen W. Morris has been researching icicles and their formation for a number of years and is likely the only person in this field of research. The computer monitor shows a collection of photographs of icicles made with this machine. (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

Ever notice an earthy smell in the air after a light rain? Now scientists at MIT believe they may have identified the mechanism that releases this aroma, as well as other aerosols, into the environment.

Aerosol generation after drop impingement on porous media is a three-step process, consisting of bubble formation, bubble growth, and bubble bursting.  Image courtesy of Youngsoo Joung

To accurately forecast wintertime bad air days in Utah’s Uintah Basin, researchers must use real atmospheric measurements to estimate chemical emissions from nearby oil and natural gas fields, a new study in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics has found. 

Smoke from oil refinery

They've gathered more than 10 years of hour-by-hour weather observations and domestic fight data, and are using advanced data analytics to spot patterns and help airlines manage more efficiently.  While the project uses public data that has been available for years, its size and scope make it unique, says Brian Lemay, a U-M doctoral student in industrial and operations engineering who leads the project.

A map showing weather patterns in the lower right, while a larger U.S. map shows corresponding flight delays.

It was fishermen off the coast of Peru who first recognized the anomaly, hundreds of years ago. Every so often, their usually cold, nutrient-rich water would turn warm and the fish would disappear. Then there was the ceaseless rain.  They called it “El Niño” — The Boy, or Christmas Boy — because of its timing near the holiday.

Using state-of-the-art computer models maintained at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, researchers determined that El Niño has intensified over the last 6,000 years. This pier and cafe are in Ocean Beach, California.

Scientists now have an observational framework to help predict solar weather and how it will affect Earth.  "Now it's possible that we can have a space weather model that's like Earth's meteorology," says physicist Dr. S.T. Wu, distinguished professor emeritus of The University of Alabama in Huntsville.

An observation-based model presented in China by physicist Dr. S.T. Wu makes it possible to predict solar weather.


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