Researcher works in a stable isotope lab that contains lots of blue and beige gas flasks

New analysis shows microbial sources fueling rise of atmospheric methane (NOAA Research News)

June 17, 2021

The sudden and sustained rise in atmospheric levels of the potent greenhouse gas methane since 2007 has posed one of the most significant and pressing questions in climate research: Where is it coming from? Now a research team has tested the leading theories for surging methane levels by analyzing the stable carbon isotope ratios (δ13C-CH4) from methane captured in a large set of global air samples to determine if one of the theories is more feasible than the others.

Researchers study the fall tundra in the Colorado alpine

Longer growing season could transform the tundra (Colorado Arts and Sciences Magazine)

June 11, 2021

Across the tundra, warming temperatures are causing plants to stay greener longer and flower earlier—and that could reshape life there, according to new research led by INSTAARs. The findings, published today in Nature Communications, synthesized 30 years of experimental warming data from 18 different tundra sites across the globe and found that not only are leaves coming out earlier and staying on the plants longer in this critically understudied biome, but their reproductive cycles are not responding in the same way. This change could not only have cascading effects through the ecosystem, but could also change the balance of carbon between the land and the atmosphere.

Huey Creek in the McMurdo Dry Valleys LTER, Antarctica

Slow research to understand fast change (EurekAlert!)

May 28, 2021

The Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network has generated 40 years of careful, reliable science about the Earth's changing ecosystems, which may prove to be just what's needed in this rapidly shifting world. By harnessing decades of rich data, scientists are beginning to forecast future conditions and plan ways to manage, mitigate, or adapt to likely changes in ecosystems that will impact human economies, health and wellbeing.

Aerial view of CU Boulder's east and main campuses with the foothills and continental divide

CU Boulder remains near top in 2020 global university rankings (CU Boulder Today)

May 26, 2021

CU Boulder's earth science and atmospheric science disciplines remained ranked No. 1 globally in ShanghaiRanking's report, the 2021 Global Ranking of Academic Subjects (GRAS). The university also scored highly in a dozen other academic categories in those rankings, highlighting the breadth of impactful CU Boulder research.

Cows in a muddy field

A mysterious rise in methane levels is sparking global warming fears (New Scientist)

May 21, 2021

In INSTAAR's Stable Isotope Lab lie rows of metal flasks holding clues to the cause of an alarming rise in a powerful greenhouse gas. They contain samples of air from around the world that Sylvia Michel‘s team of methane detectives analyse to reveal whether the gas came from burning fossil fuels and wood, or from wetlands and cow guts. Note that a subscription is required to read this article.

Dried and cracked mud

Severe drought, worsened by climate change, ravages the American West (New York Times)

May 20, 2021

Heat and shifting weather patterns have intensified wildfires and reduced water supplies across the Southwest, the Pacific Coast, and North Dakota. Keith Musselman quoted.

Forest fire burns the forest floor in Saskatchewan

“Zombie fires” detected in Alaska and Canada, set to increase as climate warms (Axios)

May 20, 2021

"Zombie fires" may sound like something straight out of science fiction, but they're a real phenomenon that is likely to become more common in the area ringing the Arctic, and possibly the Arctic itself, as climate change continues, a new study finds. Merritt Turetsky comments on the study and explains its context.

Tundra fires in Alaska

Blazes that refuse to die: ‘Zombie fires’ (New York Times)

May 20, 2021

With a changing climate, fires in far northern forests that smolder throughout winter and erupt again in spring could become more common.

Photo of Bob Anderson

Two CU Boulder profs elected to National Academy of Sciences (Colorado Arts and Sciences Magazine)

May 7, 2021

Geologist (and INSTAAR) Robert S. Anderson and astrophysicist Fran Bagenal recognized for ‘distinguished and continuing achievements in original research’.

Open landfill in the vicinity of Gorak Shep (5,140m), two hours walk south of the Everest basecamp.

Managing Everest’s waste problem (Nepali Times)

April 26, 2021

Report on a management plan for solid waste in Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) National Park, Nepal, from a paper led by Alton Byers published in Mountain Research Development.