Science Briefs

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

2010

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How Carbon Dioxide Controls Earth's Temperature

A new atmosphere-ocean climate modeling study shows that the planet's temperature depends, ultimately, on the atmospheric level of carbon dioxide. (Oct '10)
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Measuring the Greenhouse Effect

Water vapor and carbon dioxide are key greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. But which is more important, and how do they interact? (Oct '10)
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Does Black Carbon Increase Cooling from Clouds?

Soot particles in the atmosphere absorb radiation, but studies suggest their effect on cloud cover and thickness may promote an overall net cooling. (Sep '10)
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Thumbs Up or Down for Soot Mitigation?

The climatic effects of soot emissions depend greatly on its composition. The result of reducing emissions will vary depending on what sources are targeted. (Aug '10)
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Climate Change and Sahelian Rainfall

Climate model projections of 21st century precipitation trends in Africa's Sahel disagree about whether to expect more frequent droughts or a rainier future. (Jul '10)
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Irrigation and 20th Century Climate

Modeling the effect of irrigation on temperature and precipitation over the past century points to the need to include it in future studies, especially where water resources are not sustainable. (Jun '10)
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2009

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Sea Ice Retreat and Arctic Pollution

As the Arctic ice cap shrinks during the coming decades, the chemistry of the polar troposphere should also change. (Dec '09)
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Survival of Tibetan Glaciers

Along with greenhouse gases, black soot from upwind pollution sources threatens to eliminate glaciers from the Tibetan Plateau during the 21st century. (Dec '09)
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Can the Oceans Keep Pace with Industrial Emissions?

In a new estimate of industrial carbon absorbed by the oceans, evidence is seen for a recent slow-down in their capacity to keep up with emissions. (Dec '09)
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How do Global Soot Models Measure Up?

Seventeen global black carbon models were compared with measurements from ground networks, aircraft and satellite and found to generally have enough "soot" but to underestimate absorption. (Nov '09)
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Ocean Temperature Variations and Rainfall

A regional climate simulation of the equatorial eastern Atlantic found a surprising change in rainfall in one latitude zone in response to sea temperature changes in an adjacent zone. (Nov '09)
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Alaskan Climate Change and Peatland Carbon Storage

Analysis of fossil pollen and spores from northern peatland reveals major shifts in Alaskan coastal climate and vegetation since the last ice age, which affects carbon storage potential. (Aug '09)
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Super-Eruptions, Climate and Human Survival

Explosive volcanic eruptions can cool climate for a short period, but can a super-eruption such as occurred 74 thousand years ago lead to ice sheet formation? (Jul '09)
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Transportation Pollution and Global Warming

Controlling pollution from transportation sources would greatly reduce black carbon and ozone emissions, which affect both climate and also human health. (Jun '09)
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Particles Multi-Task to Change Climate

Tiny particulate matter in the atmosphere can both warm and cool the climate. Which effect is dominant, and will the balance change as the atmosphere warms due to greenhouse gases? (May '09)
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The Ozone Hole and Global Warming

A new study examines possible connections between reduced Southern Hemisphere ozone and Northern Hemisphere Arctic warming. (May '09)
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Solar Variations and Climate

Modeling studies show that changes in solar irradiance that occur during the solar cycle have an influence on rainfall patterns, much like weighting the dice. (Jan '09)
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2008

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Separating the Man-Made from the Natural

Analyzing anthropogenic signals in the climate records requires the ability to distinguish them from natural effects with similar time scales. (Dec '08)
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Looking Both Ways at Pollution

Regulation of pollutants often treats their air quality and climate change effects separately, but a unified approach may produce better results. (Dec '08)
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Earth Impacts Linked to Climate Change

A new study shows that human-caused climate change has impacted a wide range of natural systems, from Arctic permafrost thawing to African lakes declining in productivity. (Dec '08)
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Getting a Grip on Ice Sheet Changes

To better understand how climate change will affect the Greenland ice sheet, scientists modeled the melting Laurentide ice sheet of 9000 years ago. (Oct '08)
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How Will Global Peak Oil Affect Climate?

Researchers have identified feasible emission scenarios that could keep carbon dioxide below levels that some scientists have called dangerous for climate. (Sep '08)
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Uncertainties Limit Climate Predictions

Gaps in our understanding of climate response in the tropics and polar regions limit our ability to predict future climate change impacts in all areas. (Aug '08)
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Climate Change From Short-Lived Emissions

Three climate models were used to study the climatic effects through the year 2050 of short-lived atmospheric species such as sulfates, aerosols, and tropospheric ozone. (Jul '08)
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Modeling the Dust Bowl Climate Forcings

A series of climate model simulations studied how dust storms altered precipitation during the Dust Bowl drought of the 1930s. (Jun '08)
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2007

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Wetlands' Outsize Influence on Climate

The role of wetlands in the climate system is twofold because of their important part in the hydrologic cycle and in the methane that they emit. (Oct '07)
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Climate Change and Summer Heat Waves

A NASA study suggests that greenhouse-gas warming may raise average summer temperatures in the eastern U.S. nearly 10°F by the 2080s. (May '07)
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The Color of Life, Here and Out There

NASA scientists believe they have found a way to predict the color of plants on planets in other solar systems. (Apr '07)
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Particulate Consequences

Changes over the next few decades in the types of aerosol pollutants and where they are emitted will affect how climate changes. GISS scientists recently looked at two possible scenarios. (Mar '07)
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Modeling Carbon Monoxide

Scientists from ten countries recently studied how well we understand the spread of the pollutant carbon monoxide through the atmosphere and its interaction with important greenhouse gases. (Feb '07)
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Sea Level Rise, Then and Now

A warming climate is expected to cause sea level rise, leading to coastal flooding and other undesirable effects. Examining past episodes of rising oceans allows us to anticipate the future. (Jan '07)
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The Physics of Climate Modeling

Climate is a large-scale phenomenon that emerges from complicated interactions among small-scale physical systems. Yet despite this complexity, climate models have demonstrated impressive successes. (Jan '07)
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2006

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Observing and Modeling African Storms

Regional climate models give more detailed structure to the spatial distributions of weather variables. After a few days of initial tuning, one GISS model simulates realistic weather scenarios such as summer storms over West Africa. (July '04/May '06)
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Interaction of Ozone and Sulfate Pollution

A recent GISS study of the cross influences of ozone and sulfate "precursor" gases over the next 25 years has revealed surprising effects relevant to air quality management. (Mar. '06)
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Trial of the Century: Act II

Evidence regarding the response of polar ice sheets and sea level rise to rising temperatures is considered in the trial of carbon dioxide and co-conspirators. (Feb. '06/Feb. '07)
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Modeling Abrupt Climate Change

To test how well a climate model predicts possible changes in ocean circulation due to climate change, GISS scientists have simulated the effects of a massive flood of fresh water some 8000 years ago. (Jan. '06)
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