Studies of past climates provide insight into the causes of our present climate. We require such insight to develop computer models that predict Earth's future.

The greenhouse effect: imagine the sun illuminating Earth in a bottle.

Bloom (2010) Global Climate Change: Convergence of Disciplines. Sinauer Associates.

Past History

Present Factors

 Future World

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Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: The Fate of the Oil Last Updated on 2015-02-02 17:02:07 Summary The April 20, 2010, explosion of the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig led to the largest oil spill in U.S. waters. Federal government officials estimated that the deepwater well ultimately released (over 84 days) over 200 million gallons (or 4.9 million barrels) of crude oil. Although decreasing amounts of oil were observed on the ocean surface following the well’s containment on July 15, 2010, oil spill response officials and researchers have found oil in other places. A pressing question that has been raised by many stakeholders is where did the oil go? On August 4, 2010, the federal government released an estimate of the oil spill budget for the Deepwater Horizon incident. On November 23, 2010, the federal government released a peerreviewed “Technical Document” that further explained how the estimates were derived, and in some cases, modified the... More »
Climate Last Updated on 2014-10-01 10:48:54 Climate is the typical pattern of conditions of the earth’s atmosphere over a given region, as defined by factors such as temperature, air pressure. humidity, precipitation, sunlight, cloudiness, and winds. The World Meteorological Organization defines climate as "the statistical description in terms of the mean and variability of relevant quantities over a period of time," where an appropriate period is typically at least thirty years. Climate can be assessed at different, overlapping geographic regions. For example, Earth is thought to have a climate that is distinct from that of other planets, while different regions of Earth are also thought to have distinct climate types. Climate is often described as the "average" conditions; however, since daily and seasonal variability (including extremes) are critical determinants, using the term... More »
Coral bleaching Last Updated on 2014-05-12 12:51:51 Coral bleaching is the reduction of intracellular endosymbionts in living coral reefs either via loss or expulsion of algal pigmentation. The symbiotic relationship between coral and zooxanthellae is directly related to coral bleaching. When this relationship fails, and the zooxanthellae do not receive required inputs from the coral or vice-versa, the zooxanthellae will pale and turn white or be expelled into the water. The resultant decline in coral health from bleaching is deleterious to the coral ecosystem. Chief drivers for coral bleaching are freshwater dilution, change in pH, marine water pollution, increase in sunlight or alteration of seawater temperature. Particularly widespread water pollution is in the form of marine sedimentation from excessive runoff and discharge of untreated sewage. In addition to these abiotic causes of coral bleaching, the phenomenon of overfishing... More »
Night-warming effect over large wind farms Last Updated on 2012-05-01 00:00:00 Study indicates that land surface temperatures have warmed in the vicinity of large wind farms in west-central Texas, especially at night, Scientists Find Night-Warming Effect Over Large Wind Farms in Texas Wind turbines interact with atmospheric boundary layer near the surface Large wind farms in certain areas in the United States appear to affect local land surface temperatures, according to a paper published today in the journal Nature Climate Change. The study, led by Liming Zhou, an atmospheric scientist at the State University of New York- (SUNY) Albany, provides insights about the possible effects of wind farms. The results could be important for developing efficient adaptation and management strategies to ensure long-term sustainability of wind power. "This study indicates that land surface temperatures have warmed in the vicinity of large wind farms in... More »
Human-caused climate change a factor in Mediterranean droughts Last Updated on 2011-10-28 00:00:00 Human-caused climate change a major factor in more frequent Mediterranean droughts Winter precipitation trends in the Mediterranean region for the period 1902 - 2010. High Resolution (Credit: NOAA) Wintertime droughts are increasingly common in the Mediterranean region, and human-caused climate change is partly responsible, according to a new analysis by NOAA scientists and colleagues at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). In the last 20 years, 10 of the driest 12 winters have taken place in the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. “The magnitude and frequency of the drying that has occurred is too great to be explained by natural variability alone,” said Martin Hoerling, Ph.D. of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo., lead author of a paper published online in the Journal of Climate ... More »