Cobscook Bay State Park, Maine. Photo: W. Menke

What Geology Has to Say About Global Warming

The most important lessons drawn from geology are that the earth’s climate can change radically, and rapidly. We can’t say precisely at what CO2 level we’re in danger of melting Antarctica, but that threshold could be reached in 150-300 years, if CO2 levels keep rising at the current rate.

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El Niño: The Basics

Forecasts suggest we’re looking ahead to an El Niño event this year—a warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean around the equator that can affect weather patterns around the globe. But what exactly is an El Niño event, how strong do forecasters think it’s likely to be, and just how will it affect our weather?

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For a Wind-Powered City, Heat Pumps Are Key

Replacing conventional building boilers with electric heat pumps in New York City buildings could substantially increase the viability of renewable energy use in the city, according to a recent study from researchers from the Earth Institute’s Sustainable Engineering Lab.

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The Amazon rainforest. Photo: CIFOR

Making Progress on Deforestation

In 2005, Brazil was losing more forest each year than any other country. Today, Brazil has reduced deforestation in the Amazon by 70 percent. Seventeen countries across four continents have also shown progress in reducing tropical deforestation. But there is still a long way to go.

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Study: Reforming the Port Authority and the MTA

Earth Institute students took a hard look into financial and administrative problems plaguing the MTA and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and came up with suggestions for more sustainable financing and more efficient operations.

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A ‘Bumper-Car’ Ride in the Ice Mélange

by | 7.29.2014 at 10:28am
Glacier in front of Alison Iceberg (Photo M. Turrin)

Today’s plan is to extend the sampling to include a wider region of the water exchange between Alison (Nanatakavsaup), the surrounding ocean and the connection to Hayes glacier. At the Village Meeting we had queried the local fisherman about the iceberg exit pathways for both Alison and Hayes to confirm or correct information we have gleaned from satellite imagery.

World Trade Center Ship Traced to Colonial-Era Philadelphia

by | 7.28.2014 at 8:57am
The ship was identified as a Hudson River Sloop, designed by New York’s first European settlers, the Dutch, to carry passengers and cargo in shallow, rocky waters.  In the 1970s, folk singer and activist Pete Seeger built a Hudson River Sloop replica named Clearwater, and used it as a platform to lobby for the removal of toxic PCBs and other pollutants from the Hudson. (Anthony Pepitone)

Four years ago this month, archeologists monitoring the excavation of the former World Trade Center site uncovered a ghostly surprise: the bones of an ancient sailing ship. In a new study, scientists at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory say that an old growth forest in the Philadelphia area supplied the white oak used in the ship’s frame, and that the trees were probably cut in 1773 or so—a few years before the bloody war that established America’s independence from Britain.

When North Itself Wanders

by | 7.25.2014 at 9:00am
Earth's magnetic field lines are almost vertical near the poles. The dancing lights of the aurora borealis are the result of interactions Earth's magnetic field, atmosphere, and energetic particles from the sun. Image credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

I love thinking about why my compass points north.
The deep, molten-metal motions, rising
And falling … gargantuan currents of iron
Conceiving vast magnetic fields, revealed
In my hand, by a tiny, quivering red needle.

Indian Government Takes Steps on Agriculture, Water, Climate

by | 7.23.2014 at 9:43am
Cabinet Secretariat of India. Image Source: Wikipedia.

In terms of the urgent need to reform agriculture, address climate change and promote sustainable watershed development, the Indian government’s new budget provides for a number of promising initiatives.

Pedal Power: The Earth Institute and Climate Ride

by | 7.22.2014 at 10:07am
Climate Ride participants celebrating the end of their ride from New York City to Washington, D.C.

Once again this year the Earth Institute is a beneficiary of Climate Ride, the national bike ride to raise charitable donations for and awareness about sustainability, active transportation, and environmental causes. Participants can select the Earth Institute as a grant recipient when riding in any 2014 Climate Ride event, and anyone can support one or more riders with a donation toward their personal fundraising goals for the event.

View from an Iceberg

by | 7.21.2014 at 12:13pm | 1 Comment
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The science goal for today is to complete 8 CTD casts. We load into our vessel, a Poca 500GR. We have discussed a 6 to 8 hour window of boat time with Gabriel the captain and Magnus our navigator and stocked up on 40 liters of benzene.

A Meeting for the Kullorsuaq Community

by | 7.19.2014 at 8:58pm
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It seems that many of the local fishermen have gone to hunt Narwal further north but there are several good prospects for boats that Søren will scout further as several of the fishermen are sleeping as the fishing is better right now at night. With 24 hours of daylight day or night fishing doesn’t really seem to matter.