Carnegie Science News - Department of Global Ecology

Thursday, March 19, 2015

To combat global climate change caused by greenhouse gases, alternative energy sources and other types of environmental recourse actions are needed. There are several proposals that involve using vertical ocean pipes to move seawater to the surface from the depths in order to reap a variety of different potential climate benefits. A new study from a group of Carnegie scientists determines that these types of pipes could actually increase global warming quite drastically.

Monday, March 16, 2015

In the face of global climate change, increasing the use of renewable energy resources is one of the most urgent challenges facing the world. Further development of one resource, solar energy, is complicated by the need to find space for solar power-generating equipment without significantly altering the surrounding environment. New work from Carnegie found that the amount of energy that could be generated from solar equipment constructed on and around existing infrastructure in California would exceed the state’s demand by up to five times. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

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Lake Erie just can’t catch a break. The lake has experienced harmful algal blooms and severe oxygen-depleted “dead zones” for years, but now a team of researchers led by Carnegie’s Anna Michalak and Yuntao Zhou has shown that the widespread drought in 2012 was associated with the largest dead zone since at least the mid-1980s. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

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Natural gas power plants produce substantial amounts of gases that lead to global warming. Replacing old coal-fired power plants with new natural gas plants could cause climate damage to increase over the next decades, unless their methane leakage rates are very low and the new power plants are very efficient.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

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The climate warming caused by a single carbon emission takes only about 10 years to reach its maximum effect. This is important because it refutes the common misconception that today’s emissions won’t be felt for decades and that they are a problem for future generations. For the first time, a study has evaluated how long it takes to feel the maximum warming effect caused by a single carbon emission.  

Monday, November 17, 2014

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New work from a team led by Carnegie’s Greg Asner shows the limitations of long-used research methods in tropical rainforest ecology and points to new technological approaches for understanding forest structures and systems on large geographic scales. For decades, the primary method of studying tropical forests has been field inventory plots—specially selected areas assumed to represent their surrounding forested landscapes.The Carnegie team used advanced three-dimensional forest mapping techniques provided by the Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) to determine how representative typical field plots actually are of their surroundings in forested landscapes.

Monday, November 10, 2014

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A new high-resolution mapping strategy has revealed billions of tons of carbon in Peruvian forests that can be preserved as part of an effort to sequester carbon stocks in the fight against climate change. A team led by Carnegie’s Greg Asner developed this new approach for prioritizing carbon conservation efforts throughout tropical countries. The low cost of conducting their project means that the same approach can be rapidly implemented in any country, thereby supporting both national and international commitments to reduce and offset carbon emissions. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

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A team of researchers working on a Carnegie expedition in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has documented that coral growth rates have plummeted 40 percent since the mid-1970s. The scientists suggest that ocean acidification may be playing an important role in this perilous slowdown. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Today a team, led by Greg Asner,  unveiled the first high-resolution map of the carbon stocks stored on land throughout the entire country of Perú. The new and improved methodology used to make the map marks a sea change for future market-based carbon economies. The new carbon map also reveals Perú’s extremely high ecological diversity and it provides the critical input to studies of deforestation and forest degradation for conservation, land use, and enforcement purposes.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

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The planet’s soil releases about 60 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year, which is far more than that released by burning fossil fuels. This happens through a process called soil respiration. Short-term warming studies have documented that rising temperatures increase the rate of soil respiration. As a result, scientists have worried that global warming would accelerate the decomposition of carbon in the soil, and decrease the amount of carbon stored there. If true, this would release even more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, where it would accelerate global warming.