Alpine wildflowers bloom on the tundra of Niwot Ridge. Photo by William Bowman.

$7.65 million grant to extend study of how climate change shapes life at 10,000 feet (CU Boulder Today)

Feb. 3, 2023

For more than 40 years, scientists from the Niwot Ridge Long-Term Ecological Research program have worked to better understand high-alpine ecosystems in a warming world. Thanks to a new $7.65 million, six-year grant from the National Science Foundation, that work will continue, making Niwot Ridge LTER the longest-running NSF-funded program at CU Boulder.

  Study authors Arielle Koshkin and Ben Hatchett measure albedo in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Photo by Anne Heggli/DRI.

Wildfires are increasingly burning California’s snowy landscapes and colliding with winter droughts to shrink California’s snowpack (DRI)

Feb. 2, 2023

A new study published in Geophysical Research Letters shows that midwinter dry spells lead to dramatic losses of winter snowpack in burned areas of California. INSTAAR Karl Rittger participated in the study, led by scientists from the Desert Research Institute.

The giant bird Genyornis went extinct in Australia around 50,000 years ago. Illustration provided by Gifford Miller.

How we cracked the mystery of Australia’s prehistoric giant eggs (The Conversation)

Jan. 25, 2023

Gifford Miller and collaborators Matthew James Collins and Beatrice Demarchi tell the story of the ancient eggshell fragments found in eroding Australian sand dunes, the controversy around their origins, and how new techniques and AI helped solve the mystery. A summary chapter in the evolving story of Genyornis and the probable causes of its extinction.

A cross-coutry skier navigates a Denver intersection on Wednesday, Jan. 18. Wet snows produced by an atmospheric river brought snowfall to the Rockies. AP Photo by David Zalubowski.

Snowpack improves as atmospheric river pours on Rocky Mountains (8NewsNow)

Jan. 24, 2023

Snowpack levels in the Upper Colorado River Basin have improved over the last two weeks, fueled by an atmospheric river carrying moisture from the Pacific Ocean. Karl Rittger is quoted extensively in this 8NewsNow story about Colorado snowpack and its impact on drought.

Tyler Jones on the deck of a research vessel.

Study offers most detailed glimpse yet of planet’s last 11,000 summers and winters (CU Boulder Today)

Jan. 11, 2023

By analyzing Antarctic ice cores, CU Boulder scientists and an international team of collaborators have revealed the most detailed look yet at the planet’s recent climactic history, including summer and winter temperatures dating back 11,000 years to the beginning of what is known as the Holocene. Published today in Nature, the study is the very first seasonal temperature record of its kind, from anywhere in the world. INSTAAR Tyler Jones is lead author of the study.

A map shows where surface water samples were collected from the Coal Creek waterway shortly after the Marshall Fire.

Ongoing CU research explores impacts, solutions after Marshall Fire

Dec. 21, 2022

On Dec. 30, 2021, a fast-moving wildfire in suburban Boulder County became the costliest wildfire in Colorado history. It burned 6,000 acres, destroyed more than 1,000 homes and damaged thousands of others. The Marshall Fire also spurred researchers—many personally affected by the fire—to apply their expertise to the aftermath. A year later, dozens of ongoing research projects continue to explore the science behind the fire; its widespread impacts; and how we can mitigate future catastrophes in a changing climate.

Maddie Sanders, one of the CASE Fellows, works on a large mural

Announcing the Colorado Art Science Environment Fellows and Colorado State Capitol Exhibition

Dec. 19, 2022

The Office for Outreach and Engagement announces the CASE Fellows program. The program pairs Colorado artists with CU Boulder scientists to produce art that will be exhibited at the Colorado State Capitol in an exhibition about how Coloradans are experiencing interrelated challenges of fire, drought, and water and air quality. Lisa Schwartz from OOE is leading the program in partnership with Shelly Sommer at INSTAAR, Boulder County Arts Alliance and with exhibition and curatorial support from Amy Hoagland.

Part of a Forabot, a robot that can sort microscopic fossils

Fossil-sorting robots will help researchers study oceans, climate (NC State)

Dec. 13, 2022

A team of North Carolina State researcher and INSTAAR Tom Marchitto have developed a robot capable of sorting, manipulating, and identifying foraminifera—microscopic marine fossils that play a key role in our understanding of the world’s oceans and climate past and present. An open-source paper describing the work has been published in the AGU journal Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems; and the robot itself will be made open source.

Diane McKnight in the Dry Valleys of Antarctica.

These freeze-drying algae can awaken from cryostasis, could help spaceflights go farther (AGU)

Dec. 8, 2022

Algal mats survive extreme conditions in Antarctica by entering a freeze-dried state. Led by Diane McKnight, researchers collected the green algae that survive there and grew them in the lab to assess their applications for spaceflight.

Mike Gooseff rows a raft on the Colorado River during field work.

2022 Alumni Awards: Michael Gooseff (MCivEngr’98; PhD’01)

Nov. 22, 2022

Presentation on Michael Gooseff, winner of the 2022 Robert L. Stearns Award, profiles his career as a polar science researcher and educator. Gooseff leads the McMurdo Dry Valleys Long-Term Ecological Research project, chairs the Water Quality Control Commission for the State of Colorado, and was a member of the Scientific Advisory Board on Water Body Connectivity for the Environmental Protection Agency among other leadership and teaching roles.