Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science (CIRES)

Front Range oil and gas operations leak 3x more than estimated

During two days of intensive airborne measurements, oil and gas operations in Colorado’s Front Range leaked nearly three times as much methane, a greenhouse gas, as predicted based on inventory estimates, and seven times as much benzene, a regulated air toxic.

Tallgrass prairie restoration could be bolstered by understanding rare microbes

In the first half of the nineteenth century, American settlers pushed westward into the Great Plains, lured to the prairies by the agricultural promise of their dark, rich soils.

Within a century, America’s tallgrass prairies—which once stretched across more than 150 million acres, from Minnesota south to Texas and from Illinois west to Nebraska—had all but vanished under settlers’ plows. The demise of the tallgrass prairie also meant the demise of dozens of species of grasses that could grow to the height of a man, hundreds of species of flowers and herds of roaming bison.

Northern hemisphere losing last dry snow region, says CU study

Last July, something unprecedented in the 34-year satellite record happened: 98 percent of the Greenland Ice Sheet’s surface melted, compared to roughly 50 percent during an average summer. Snow that usually stays frozen and dry turned wet with melt water. Research led by the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences now shows last summer’s extreme melt could soon be the new normal.

Climate zones will shift faster as climate warms, new study finds

As the planet warms, Earth’s climate zones are shifting at an accelerating pace, says a new study led by a scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, a joint venture between the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Ancient asteroid may have triggered global firestorm on Earth

A new look at conditions after a Manhattan-sized asteroid slammed into a region of Mexico in the dinosaur days indicates the event could have triggered a global firestorm that would have burned every twig, bush and tree on Earth and led to the extinction of 80 percent of all Earth’s species, says a new University of Colorado Boulder study.

Erupting volcanoes offset recent Earth warming

A team led by the University of Colorado Boulder looking for clues about why Earth did not warm as much as scientists expected between 2000 and 2010 now thinks the culprits are hiding in plain sight -- dozens of volcanoes spewing sulfur dioxide.

Alaska’s iconic Columbia Glacier expected to stop retreating in 2020, says CU-Boulder study

The wild and dramatic cascade of ice into the ocean from Alaska’s Columbia Glacier, an iconic glacier featured in the documentary “Chasing Ice” and one of the fastest moving glaciers in the world, will cease around 2020, according to a study by the University of Colorado Boulder.

All hail: by 2070, icy pellets hitting state's mountain flanks may be a thing of the past

If you are college-age or younger, you might just live to see the day when hail disappears from the eastern flanks of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.

A new modeling study involving the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, a joint institute of the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, indicates hail will likely cease to fall in those locales by the year 2070, a result of rising temperatures.

Using indigenous knowledge to advance research

Using skills passed down through generations, Inuit forecasters living in the Canadian Arctic look to the sky to tell by the way the wind scatters a cloud whether a storm is on the horizon or if it’s safe to go on a hunt. Thousands of miles away in a lab in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, scientists take data measurements and use the latest computer models to predict weather. These are two practices serving the same purpose that come from disparate worlds.

Examining the politics of global warming

Why has the world been unable to address global warming? Science policy expert Roger Pielke, Jr., CU-Boulder professor of environmental studies, says it's not the fault of those who reject the Kyoto Protocol, but those who support it and the magical thinking that the agreement represents.

In his book The Climate Fix: What Scientists and Politicians Won’t Tell You About Global Warming, Pielke offers a way to repair climate policy, shifting the debate away from meaningless targets and toward a revolution in how the world's economy is powered.

Give FeedbackSee More Photos View Photo