A new white paper reviews climate impacts already underway in the Arctic, and examines further changes expected to take place even if the world meets the goals of the Paris Agreement. It will be presented today at a meeting at the White House of national-level science ministers and advisors from around the world.
In fall 2015, smoke from agricultural fires in Indonesia blanketed much of equatorial Asia. Schools and businesses closed, planes were grounded and tens of thousands of people sought treatment for respiratory illnesses. In a new study, researchers estimate that the smoke caused upward of 100,000 deaths across Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.
Seismologist Won-Young Kim heard the first reports of the World Trade Center attacks in his car as he drove to Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, on the west bank of the Hudson River 21 miles north of the attacks. Soon, he was inundated by calls from government officials and reporters. In the initial chaos, it was unclear exactly what had hit, and when; had the seismographs picked up anything?
The human footprint continues to expand, with three quarters of earth’s land surface now experiencing measurable pressures from buildings, roads, crops, pastures and other human structures and activities, according to a new report. But the report also finds an encouraging trend: In recent years, growth in the footprint has lagged far behind population and economic growth.
East Africa’s rift valley is considered by many to be the cradle of humanity. In the Turkana region of northwest Kenya, researchers Christopher Lepre and Tanzhuo Liu of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory are cooperating with colleagues to study questions of human evolution, from the creation of the earliest stone tools to climate swings that have affected developing civilizations.
Who were our earliest ancestors? How and when did they evolve into modern humans? And how do we define “human,” anyway? Scientists are exploring Kenya’s Lake Turkana basin to help answer these questions.
On a ledge just inside the lip of Chile’s Quizapu volcanic crater, Philipp Ruprecht was furiously digging a trench. Here at an elevation of 10,000 feet, a 1,000-foot plunge loomed just yards away, and wind was whipping dust off his shovel. But the volcanologist was excited. Ruprecht had just found this spot, topped with undisturbed wedding-cake layers of fine, black material that the crater had vomited from the deep earth some 84 years ago. Samples from the currently inactive site might shed light on its exceedingly violent behavior.
High in the southern Andes, Chile’s Quizapu crater is one of South America’s most fearsome geologic features. In 1846, it was the source of one the continent’s largest historically recorded lava flows. In 1932, it produced one of the largest recorded volcanic blasts. The volcano is currently inactive, but could revive at any time. What is next?
A study out yesterday says that the lives of up to 13 million people in the United States may be disrupted by sea-level rise in the next century. But another study says that while much hard infrastructure like houses, piers, seawalls and roads may have to be kissed goodbye, some 70 percent of natural landforms along the Northeast Coast may be able to adjust themselves, and not suffer inundation.
Forests in the south-central United States are some of the country’s most productive and diverse. They also sit in a warming “hole”—an area where the progressive rise in temperature affecting most of the continent hasn’t yet taken hold. A team from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory is studying how these forests might shift—or even disappear—when climate change does catch up with them, as expected.