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.

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.

Sunset over the continental divide and subalpine meadow

10 reasons to be optimistic this Earth Day (CU Boulder Today)

April 21, 2021

In celebration of Earth Day’s 51st anniversary, CU Boulder Today explores 10 research-related discoveries led by CU Boulder that have the potential to positively change the way we live and soften humanity’s imprint on our precious planet.

Dwarf birch growing in northern Qikiqtaaluuk, Baffin Island

Ancient plant DNA and pollen found under Baffin Island lake show a greener Arctic (ArcticToday)

April 8, 2021

The snowy landscape of the Arctic was greener more than 100,000 years ago and could get there again as the climate warms and plants migrate further north, new research suggests. Plant DNA taken from soil 10 meters below a lake near Clyde River shows dwarf birch shrubs used to grow up to the northernmost point of Baffin Island, according to research led by Sarah Crump, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The samples, more than 100,000 years old, were found in soil and were more intact than samples from permafrost, suggesting they may have remained unfrozen.

Industrial smokestack and clouds

Despite pandemic shutdowns, carbon dioxide and methane surged in 2020 (NOAA Research News)

April 7, 2021

Levels of the two most important anthropogenic greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and methane, continued their unrelenting rise in 2020 despite the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic response, NOAA announced today. Carbon dioxide levels are now higher than at anytime in the past 3.6 million years. The article mentions the analyses done in INSTAAR's Stable Isotope Lab.

A sunny winter day in Rocky Mountain National Park with snow on the trees and mountains

Increased winter snowmelt threatens western water resources (CU Boulder Today)

April 5, 2021

More snow is melting during winter across the West, a concerning trend that could impact everything from ski conditions to fire danger and agriculture, according to a new CU Boulder analysis of 40 years of data, led by Keith Musselman.

Dwarf birch growing in northern Qikiqtaaluuk, Baffin Island

Arctic was once lush and green, could be again, new research shows (CU Boulder Today)

March 17, 2021

Imagine not a white, but a green Arctic, with woody shrubs as far north as the Canadian coast of the Arctic Ocean. This is what the northernmost region of North America looked like about 125,000 years ago, during the last interglacial period, finds new research from CU Boulder led by Sarah Crump. Researchers analyzed plant DNA more than 100,000 years old retrieved from lake sediment in the Arctic and found evidence of a past ecosystem. As the Arctic warms much faster than everywhere else on the planet in response to climate change, the findings, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may not only be a glimpse of the past but a snapshot of our potential future.

Rolf Kihl, with thick glasses, works in the Sed Lab while wearing his cherished CU Buffs sweater.

In memoriam: Rolf Kihl

March 4, 2021

Rolf Kihl, a meticulous and inventive scientist who established INSTAAR’s Sedimentology Lab and ran it for decades, passed away on January 19, 2021. The INSTAAR community mourns his loss.