A rock outcrop in Grand Staircase National Monument in southern Utah.

Someday, even wet forests could burn due to climate change (CU Boulder Today)

Sept. 30, 2020

Millions of years ago, fire swept across the planet, fueled by an oxygen-rich atmosphere in which even wet forests burned, according to new research by new PhD graduate F. Garrett Boudinot and Julio Sepúlveda. The study, published today in Nature Geoscience, provides geochemical evidence showing that forest fires expanded dramatically, potentially burning up to 30 or 40 percent of global forests during a 100,000 year interval more than 90 million years ago. While today's fires are exacerbated by dry conditions, they found that forest fires during this period increased even in wet regions due to changes in global climate.

As part of research on Arctic wildfires, Merritt Turetsky inspects a long soil core at a field site in the Northwest Territories, Canada.

The Arctic is burning in a whole new way

Sept. 28, 2020

Widespread wildfires in the far north aren’t just bigger; they’re different—with strong consequences for the global climate—warn international fire scientists in a commentary published today in Nature Geoscience.

Photo of Julia Moriarity

Meet Julia Moriarty

Sept. 25, 2020

Learn a bit about Dr. Julia Moriarty, a new INSTAAR scientist and an Assistant Professor in ATOC who studies processes in the coastal oceans.

Nangama glacial lake, Kanchenjunga Conservation Area, source of the 1960 glacial lake outburst flood, May 2019. Photo by Alton Byers.

Tracing past glacial floods in Kangchenjunga (Nepali Times)

Sept. 21, 2020

Satellite imagery is useful, but involving local people in research can often help fill gaps in research of glacial floods. Article by Alton Byers in the Nepali Times shares some of the detailed knowledge of local residents who witnessed glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF) over the last four decades in the Kangchenjunga area of Nepal.

Fresh white snow falls on glacier ice floating in dark blue water

Sea ice triggered the Little Ice Age, finds a new study

Sept. 16, 2020

A new study, led by Martin Miles, finds a trigger for the Little Ice Age that cooled Europe from the 1300s through mid-1800s. The study also supports surprising model results suggesting that under the right conditions sudden climate changes can occur spontaneously, without external forcing.

Whitewater on a mountain stream

New grant supports interdisciplinary research on ‘the critical zone’ and the future of Western water (CU Boulder Today)

Sept. 2, 2020

Three CU Boulder faculty, including INSTAARs Holly Barnard and Eve-Lyn Hinckley, are principal investigators on a new five-year, $6.9 million National Science Foundation grant to study the “critical zone”—from Earth’s bedrock to tree canopy top—in the American West.

Small chunks of melting ice float in a dark blue sea.

Increase in fresh water in Arctic Ocean could affect global climate systems (The Narwhal)

Aug. 28, 2020

A new study, led by Alexandra Jahn, shows increased precipitation and ice melt caused by climate change have left Arctic waters less salty. Repercussions will be felt much farther south.

Close up image of a section of ice core from the WAIS Divide, Antarctica.  Eli Duke, Flickr and WikiMedia.

White paper sets priorities for Antarctic ice coring

Aug. 14, 2020

Data from ice cores can show not only what Earth was like in prehistoric times, but how the mechanisms of climate work and how our climate may transform in the near future. INSTAAR research scientist Tyler Jones led an effort to synthesize ideas about the most meaningful, impactful questions that researchers might answer using ice cores from Antarctica. The result is a white paper that lays out priorities for ice core work in Antarctica for the next five to ten years.

Sea ice in the ocean in northern Baffin Bay, September 2008. Photo by Alex Jahn.

Increasing Arctic freshwater is driven by climate change (CU Boulder Today)

July 29, 2020

New, first-of-its-kind research from Rory Laiho and Alex Jahn shows that climate change is driving increasing amounts of freshwater in the Arctic Ocean, which will lead to increased freshwater moving into the North Atlantic Ocean, which could disrupt ocean currents and affect temperatures in northern Europe.

Carolyn Gibson stands in the middle of a collapse scar representing wet, degrading permafrost in the Arctic

Alaska is getting wetter. That’s bad news for permafrost and the climate

July 24, 2020

Alaska is getting wetter. A new study spells out what that means for the permafrost that underlies about 85% of the state, and the consequences for Earth’s global climate.