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Thursday, July 30,2015

Emissions threaten age of uncertainty for carbon dating

New study warns rising CO2 levels will undermine scientific dating of once-living things

By Tim Radford
Climate change driven by increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide will not just damage the health of the planet. A UK scientist now warns that it will also make life increasingly difficult for archaeologists, forensic scientists, art experts, fraud and forgery detectives and people who detect ivory poachers.
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Thursday, April 30,2015

Well drilling has deep impact on Great Plains’ health

Loss of vegetation on North America’s vast rangelands as a result of a huge increase in oil and gas wells invokes memories of the 1930s Dust Bowl disaster.

By Tim Radford
Oil wells and natural gas may have made individual Americans rich, but they have impoverished the great plains of North America, according to new research. Fossil fuel prospectors have sunk 50,000 new wells a year since 2000 in three Canadian provinces and 11 U.S. states, and have damaged the foundation of all economic growth: net primary production — otherwise known as biomass, or vegetation.
Thursday, April 9,2015

New ocean energy plan could worsen global warming

An apparently promising way of producing energy from the world’s oceans could cause catastrophic harm by warming the Earth far more than it can bear

By Tim Radford
One of renewable energy’s more outspoken enthusiasts has delivered bad news for the prospects of developing ocean thermal energy. His prediction is that although the technology could work for a while, after about 50 years it could actually exacerbate long-term global warning.
Thursday, March 5,2015

Acid attack

Antarctic Ocean acidification is slowing the growth of an important food source for marine life

By Tim Radford
As the planet’s oceans become more acidic, the diatoms — a major group of alga — in the Antarctic Ocean could grow more slowly. And since tiny, single-celled algae are a primary food source for an entire ocean ecosystem, the discovery seems ominous. Bioscientist Clara Hoppe and colleagues from the Alfred Wegener Institute at the Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, Germany, report in the journal New Phytologist that they tested the growth of the Antarctic diatom Chaetoceros debilis under laboratory conditions.
Thursday, February 12,2015

Climate data gives mixed message on storm forecasts

New research suggests that climate change won’t lead to more storms, but the bad ones could be even more devastating

By Tim Radford
Keep calm and hold on to your hat. The atmosphere will not become increasingly stormy as the planet warms and the climate changes. The downside is that while the number of storms will probably remain unchanged, and weak storms could even become weaker, new research warns that the strongest storms could become significantly stronger. For at least three decades, researchers have worked on the assumption that as the average energy of the atmosphere increased with warming, so would the potential for extremes of heat and drought, flood and cyclone, typhoon or hurricane.
Monday, December 1,2014

Saving forests not enough

Seasonal swings in temperatures and CO2 levels are evidence of agricultural advances and population explosion tilting nature’s balance

By Tim Radford
Researchers believe they now know why global warming has begun to announce itself both in annual rises in temperature and in the seasonal records of carbon dioxide in the northern hemisphere — the same seasonal variation in atmospheric chemistry...
Monday, December 1,2014

Demonized science

New book argues climate change messengers are seeing unparalleled attacks

By Tim Radford
According to a new book by veteran environmentalist George Marshall, thousands of abusive emails — including demands that he commit suicide or be “shot, quartered and fed to the pigs, along with your family” — were received by climate scientist...
Thursday, October 16,2014

Wind turbines may lure bats into fatal errors

Researchers find bats may confuse turbines for trees

By Tim Radford
Scientists might just be about to answer one of the great puzzles of biodiversity and renewable energy: why one of nature’s most agile flyers, a creature with the most sophisticated ultrasonic tracking system, should be so fatally attracted to wind turbines.
Thursday, May 22,2014

Poor air quality and health problems could become the summertime norm throughout the US

Scientists predict a 70 percent rise in ground-level ozone — unless action is taken to cut emissions

By Tim Radford
Gabriele Pfister, an atmospheric scientist at the National Center for Atmosphere Research (NCAR), and research colleagues report in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres that Americans face a rise of 70 percent in summertime ozone levels by 2050.
Friday, March 28,2014

Rockies flora show climate impact

By Tim Radford
An intensive study of the flora of one meadow in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado over nearly 40 years reveals a widespread and consistent pattern of climate-induced change.