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22 posts in Publications

UW Researchers detect carbon dioxide outgassing in the Southern Ocean

Alison Gray (UW Oceanography) and her team recently published a paper in AGU about significant carbon dioxide outgassing in the Southern Ocean during the winter. The Southern Ocean was previously thought to be a carbon sink, based off of measurements that were sparse and tended to be from the summer. This paper used data from SOCCOM (Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling) floats that take measurements year-round. Steve Riser (UW Oceanography) leads the UW team that is a part of SOCCOM. They build and test the floats before they are deployed, and have a key role in SOCCOM's observational group.

Read More at ScienceNews

Permian Mass Extinction caused by Global Warming

A newly published paper in Science proves that the Permian mass extinction, which is the largest extinction in Earth's history, was caused by global warming that raised ocean temperatures and lowered the amount of oxygen the ocean could hold, making it difficult for marine organisms to survive. Justin Penn, a doctoral student in Oceanography, and Curtis Deutsch, an assistant professor of Oceanography, along with Stanford researchers, modeled climate conditions during the Permian and used published lab measurements and the fossil record to analyze the effects of the changing climate on marine organisms. This study's results, that mass extinction is an effect of increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere resulting in a warmer ocean, are important considering our climate now. Penn said, "This study highlights the potential for a mass extinction arising from a similar mechanism under anthropogenic climate change.”

Read more at UW News

Plant response to elevated carbon dioxide amplifies warming

A new study published by Marlies Kovenock, a graduate student in the Department of Biology and member of the PCC, demonstrates how the response of plants to climate change could result in more warming. Plants have been observed to change the thickness of their leaves when subject to increased CO2. Yet, the consequence of this physiological response is still poorly understood. Does this response amplify or dampen the warming caused by the increased CO2? Kovenock suggests that the thicker leaves may amplify the effects of climate change because the leaves would be less efficient in sequestering atmospheric carbon. By not accounting for this response, it means that global temperatures could rise by an extra 0.3 to 1.4 degrees Celsius.    

Read More at UW News

Ice-sheets in the Northern Hemisphere drove climate variability in the Southern Hemisphere

A new study by PCC community members, Eric Steig and Brad Markle, is out in Nature. The team, led by researchers at University of Colorado, Boulder, demonstrated that climate variability in the Southern Hemisphere was forced by ice-sheet topography in the Northern Hemisphere. By using a fully-coupled climate model, the team determined the reason for the observed change in the ice core. They demonstrate that the retreat of the Laurentide–Cordilleran ice-sheets fundamentally altered the circulation of the ocean and atmosphere by reducing the strength of interactions between the tropical Pacific and high southern latitudes. Their results show that interannual and decadal variability in West Antarctica was reduced by nearly half during this retreat.

Read More in Nature

Forcing and variability on Southern Ocean surface temperature trends

A new paper out in Geophysical Research Letters (GRL) highlights the contribution of both anthropogenic forcing and natural variability on Southern Ocean surface temperature trends. Kyle Armour, of the School of Oceanography and Department of Atmospheric Sciences, was part of a team that helped to shed light on this. Using an ensemble of coupled general circulation models, they evaluated possible causes of the models’ inability to reproduce the observed Southern Ocean cooling. Their research found that the CMIP5 models have diverse Southern Ocean sea-surface temperature (SST) responses to the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) and greenhouse gas forcing. Through this they show that the biases in the simulated SAM trends strongly affect the models’ historical Southern Ocean SST trends.

Read More at Geophysical Research Letters (GRL)

New species relationships and interactions due to climate change

A new study led by doctoral student Elli Theobald, doctoral student Ian Breckheimer and biology professor Janneke Hille Ris Lambers help to uncover what subalpine communities may look like by the end of this century. Over the course of a few summers, the researchers studied the flowering patterns among the alpine species. They noted that the anomalous conditions of the 2015 suggested that new patterns of reassembled wildflower communities will occur, with unknown ecological consequences. However, there is not enough information to know who the "winners" and "losers" of reassembly will be, or even what "winning" or "losing" in this scenario would look like.

Read More at ESA

Former PCC member, Mark Zelinka, tries to clear the cloud-feedback problem

In a recent paper in Nature Climate Change, Mark Zelinka (former PCC member) adds to the discussion of the cloud-feedback problem. Zelinka proposes that the cloud feedback is likely positive rather than negative. Zelinka states that our understanding of the uncertainty "in cloud feedback is a dominant cause of uncertainty in projections of global warming and hence more societal relevant aspects of climate, such as sea-level rise and changes in precipitation, continued progress is necessary".

Read more at Nature Climate Change

Earth likely to warm more than 2 degrees this century says Dr. Frierson

A recent paper published in Nature Climate Change by a group of UW researchers, including Dr. Dargan Frierson, explains just how critical climate action is. The authors use a fully statistical approach based on country-specific variables to forecast CO2 emissions and temperature change to the year 2100. The study is based on the already implemented emission mitigation policies seen today and finds that it is unlikely that the increase in global temperature will stay under the 2°C mark, and that a change between 2°C and 4.9°C globally is more likely.

Read More at UW News
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