Science Briefs

This page lists all GISS Science Briefs for the period 2001-2005. Listings are available on separate pages for 2011 to the present, 2006-2010, and 1995-2000.

2005

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Tracing the Water Cycle, Isotopically

Tracking the movements of water through the climate system is a primary concern of climatologists. How do we follow water's path from a particular source? How well do climate models agree with observations? (Dec. '05)
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Mineral Clues to Past Climates

How do we know what Earth's climate was in the ancient past? Scientists can use a wide variety of geologic evidence as indirect "proxies" to reconstruct the record of past temperature, rainfall and wind. (Nov. '05)
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Trial of the Century: Co-Conspirators Convicted

Although greenhouse gases haven't been caught "red-handed", circumstantial evidence is overwhelming that carbon dioxide and its co-conspirators methane and nitrous oxide are creating a predicament for Earth's climate. (Feb. '05)
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2004

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Cassini Encounters Titan

Cassini entered Saturn orbit in June 2004 and has already made exciting observations of the moon Titan. GISS scientists Anthony Del Genio and Michael Allison are involved in three of the instrument teams. (Dec. '04)
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Mars: Signs of a Watery Past

"Follow the water" has been NASA's chief guideline for the exploration of Mars. Evidence is rapidly accumulating from satellites and roving landers that the Red Planet was once much wetter, with a more clement climate. (Oct. '04)
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The Sun vs. the Volcano

Over the past 150 years, human activities have changed many aspects of the atmosphere that influence climate. Before then, climate change was simpler; decadal and centennial variations were driven only by volcanic eruptions and solar variability. (Jan. '04)
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Clouds and Sulfate Aerosols

Our ability to predict future climate change hinges on our understanding of aerosols. One of the most important aerosol, sulfate, cools the climate by reflecting sunlight and by serving as condensation points for clouds which also reflect sunlight. (Jan. '04)
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2003

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As Pure as Snow

An electron microscope reveals that the typical snowflake contains thousands of aerosols, including soot. The effect of soot on snow reflectivity is important and contributes to global warming and melting of glaciers and the polar icecaps. (Dec. '03)
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Radiative Instability of a Star

A star goes through most of its life cycle in a placid, sedate way, radiating its luminous smile for eons. But its birth and death pangs are traumatic, and muscular contractions and expansions shake up its body during middle age as well. (Dec. '03)
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2002

2001