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Complete Archive (organized by chapter)
New World View
Climate Change
Life and Climate
Losing Biodiversity
Energy Flow
Ecosystem Change
Population Growth
Energy Use
A Changing Cosmos
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Latest News and Updates

2015-07-25. Obama uses Africa trip to highlight proposed rules on ivory sales.

posted Jul 25, 2015, 3:41 PM by Alan Gould

By Darlene Superville and Kevin Freking, Associated Press. For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 8. Excerpt: NAIROBI, Kenya — President Barack Obama moved Saturday to tighten U.S. rules on sales of ivory from African elephants, aiming to show progress on conservation as he began a trip to the region. Obama, in a joint news conference with Kenya's president in Nairobi, said the restrictions will eliminate the market for illegal ivory in the United States. "I can announce that we're proposing a new rule that bans the sale of virtually all ivory across state lines," Obama said. ...An estimated 100,000 elephants were killed for their ivory between 2010 and 2012. ...In Congress, some House lawmakers hope to prevent the proposed rule from being enacted. The National Rifle Association has warned the rule could ban the sale of many firearms with ivory inlays....

2015-07-23. Hot spells doomed the mammoths.

posted Jul 25, 2015, 3:32 PM by Alan Gould

By Elizabeth Pennisi, Science. For GSS Life and Climate chapter 10. Excerpt: About 30,000 years ago, mammoths, giant sloths, and other massive mammals roamed the earth. Twenty thousand years later they were all gone. Some researchers blame human hunting, but a new study claims that abrupt shifts in climate set in motion a downward spiral for many of these species, one that humans aggravated. The results, the authors say, are a warning to modern humans that, if not slowed, current warming could doom many more species....

2015-07-21. At Vatican, Mayors Pledge Climate Change Fight.

posted Jul 22, 2015, 7:48 PM by Alan Gould

By Gaia Pianigiani, The New York Times. For GSS Climate Change chapter 9. Excerpt: VATICAN CITY — About 60 mayors from around the world gathered here on Tuesday and pledged to combat global warming and help the poor deal with its effects, at a conference swiftly organized by the Vatican barely a month after Pope Francis’ sweeping encyclical on the environment. The two-day conference, which also focused on fighting forms of modern slavery, was not the first time that the Vatican had organized a meeting on the issue. But it was the first time that it specifically invited local officials, hoping to mobilize grass-roots action and maintain pressure on world leaders for action ahead of a global summit meeting on climate change scheduled for December in Paris....

2015-07-20. NASA Captures "EPIC" Earth Image.

posted Jul 22, 2015, 7:39 PM by Alan Gould

NASA Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite. For GSS Energy Flow chapter 6. Excerpt: A NASA camera on the Deep Space Climate Observatory [DSCOVR] satellite has returned its first view of the entire sunlit side of Earth from one million miles away...taken by NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), a four megapixel CCD camera and telescope. [ the first complete picture of our planet since 1972 (those in the interim have actually been composites). ...DSCOVR [is] a joint mission between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Air Force.... 

2015-07-15. Journalists link solar science news to climate—and to the climate controversy.

posted Jul 20, 2015, 12:59 PM by Alan Gould   [ updated Jul 20, 2015, 2:38 PM ]

By Steven T. Corneliussen, Physics Today. For GSS Climate Change chapter 7. Excerpt: The Royal Astronomical Society press release "Irregular heartbeat of the Sun driven by double dynamo" explains that at the recent National Astronomy Meeting in Wales, Northumbria University astrophysicist and mathematics professor Valentina Zharkova reported on a new model of the Sun's solar cycle. The model suggests that "solar activity will fall by 60 per cent during the 2030s to conditions last seen during the 'mini ice age' that began in 1645." The resulting media stir merits notice....  See also The Guardian article No, the sun isn't going to save us from global warming.

2015 July 14. NASA's Three-Billion-Mile Journey to Pluto Reaches Historic Encounter

posted Jul 14, 2015, 10:15 AM by Alan Gould   [ updated Jul 18, 2015, 9:50 AM ]

NASA Release 15-149. For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 7. NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is at Pluto. After a decade-long journey through our solar system, New Horizons made its closest approach to Pluto Tuesday, about 7,750 miles above the surface -- roughly the same distance from New York to Mumbai, India – making it the first-ever space mission to explore a world so far from Earth. [photo taken on July 13, 2015 when the spacecraft was 476,000 miles (768,000 kilometers) from the surface. ...the last and most detailed image sent to Earth before the spacecraft’s closest approach to Pluto on July 14.] - See also  NASA Release 15-152, July 15, 2015: From Mountains to Moons: Multiple Discoveries from NASA’s New Horizons Pluto Mission - 0 and NASA Release 15-154, July 17, 2015: NASA’s New Horizons Discovers Frozen Plains in the Heart of Pluto’s ‘Heart’ -

2015-07-09. Climate Change Is Shrinking Where Bumblebees Range, Research Finds.

posted Jul 10, 2015, 8:40 AM by Alan Gould

By Nicholas St. Fleur, The New York Times. For GSS Climate Change chapter 8. Excerpt: Climate change has narrowed the range where bumblebees are found in North America and Europe in recent decades, according to a study published Thursday. The paper, published in the journal Science, suggests that warming temperatures have caused bumblebee populations to retreat from the southern limits of their travels by as much as 190 miles since the 1970s. Logic would suggest that the northern reaches of their home turf would shift to higher latitudes by a corresponding distance. But that has not happened, leading researchers to think that the more northern habitats may be less hospitable to them. “Bumblebee species across Europe and North America are declining at continental scales,” Jeremy T. Kerr a conservation biologist at the University of Ottawa in Canada who was the lead author of the report, said at a news conference. “And our data suggest that climate change plays a leading, or perhaps the leading, role in this trend.” Not all entomologists agree with the findings, saying that the paper offers evidence of a correlation between climate change and waning bumblebee population ranges, but does not make the case that warming temperatures are the main cause. Instead, they say that a multitude of factors contribute to the bumblebees’ shrinking borders, and that a changing climate may be just one factor....

2015-07-09. NASA Study Finds Indian, Pacific Oceans Temporarily Hide Global Warming.

posted Jul 10, 2015, 8:33 AM by Alan Gould

NASA Release 15-147. For GSS Energy Flow chapter 6 and Climate Change chapter 4 Excerpt: A new NASA study of ocean temperature measurements shows in recent years extra heat from greenhouse gases has been trapped in the waters of the Pacific and Indian oceans. Researchers say this shifting pattern of ocean heat accounts for the slowdown in the global surface temperature trend observed during the past decade. ..."The western Pacific got so warm that some of the warm water is leaking into the Indian Ocean through the Indonesian archipelago," said Nieves, the lead author of the study. The movement of the warm Pacific water westward pulled heat away from the surface waters of the central and eastern Pacific, which resulted in unusually cool surface temperatures during the last decade. Because the air temperature over the ocean is closely related to the ocean temperature, this provides a plausible explanation for the global cooling trend in surface temperature....

2015-07-04. Solar Impulse 2 touches down in Hawaii after record-breaking flight.

posted Jul 8, 2015, 3:06 PM by Alan Gould

Katharine Lackey, Associated Press, The Sydney Morning Herald. For GSS Energy Use chapter 10. Excerpt: The record-setting flight of the sun-powered Solar Impulse 2 landed in Hawaii on Friday after the longest, most dangerous leg of its around-the-world journey. ...The completed 6437-kilometre leg from Nagoya, Japan, to Hawaii was not only the world's longest solar-powered flight both by time and distance, it also set the record for longest solo flight by time. ...Unlike the first several legs of the flight, which were over land in Asia, this leg was more dangerous because there would be no place to land if something went wrong above the vast Pacific Ocean. ...After landing in Hawaii, Bertrand will then continue the ocean crossing to Phoenix, Arizona as weather permits. From there, Solar Impulse will land at a location in the Midwest, then in New York City. It will undertake two final flights over the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea before landing back at Abu Dhabi....

2015-07-08. Timing and climate forcing of volcanic eruptions for the past 2,500 years.

posted Jul 8, 2015, 3:01 PM by Alan Gould

M. Sigl et al, Nature. For GSS Life and Climate chapter 12. Excerpt: Volcanic eruptions contribute to climate variability, but quantifying these contributions has been limited by inconsistencies in the timing of atmospheric volcanic aerosol loading determined from ice cores and subsequent cooling from climate proxies such as tree rings. Here we resolve these inconsistencies and show that large eruptions in the tropics and high latitudes were primary drivers of interannual-to-decadal temperature variability in the Northern Hemisphere during the past 2,500 years. ...Our revised timescale more firmly implicates volcanic eruptions as catalysts in the major sixth-century pandemics, famines, and socioeconomic disruptions in Eurasia and Mesoamerica while allowing multi-millennium quantification of climate response to volcanic forcing....

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