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 (YouTube)

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.

Smoke from a wildfire is visible behind a permafrost monitoring tower at the Scotty Creek Research Station in Canada's Northwest Territories in September. The tower burned down in October from unusual wildfire activity. Photo by Joëlle Voglimacci-Stephanopoli.

Belching lakes, mystery craters, ‘zombie fires’: How the climate crisis is transforming the Arctic permafrost (CNN)

Nov. 14, 2022

Thawing permafrost—the frozen layer of soil that has underpinned the Arctic tundra and boreal forests of Alaska, Canada and Russia for millennia—is upending the lives of people living in the Arctic and dramatically transforming the polar landscape. The vast amount of carbon stored in the permafrost is an overlooked and underestimated driver of climate crisis. Permafrost thaw needs to get more attention—fast.

Randall Duncan on a research site near Crested Butte, Colorado, investigating how beavers influence hydrology. Photo by Katharine Lininger.

GEO-VETS initiative funds military veteran’s research project (CU Boulder Arts & Sciences)

Nov. 11, 2022

Randall Duncan is an undergraduate student who is also a U.S. Army veteran. He is pursuing dual degrees in geology and geography while working with Holly Barnard on hydrology research in the critical zone. Duncan is investigating how beavers influence rivers and floodplains near Crested Butte, Colorado, funded by the NSF GEO-VETS (Geosciences-Veterans Education and Training) initiative.

  An iceberg in Ilulissat, Greenland. Ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are melting rapidly, and that melt will accelerate as the Earth heats up. Ryan Kellman/NPR

Climate tipping points and the damage that could follow (NPR)

Nov. 11, 2022

If Earth heats up beyond 1.5 degrees C, the impacts don't get just slightly worse--scientists warn that abrupt changes could be triggered, with devastating impacts. As the 27th annual climate negotiations are underway in Egypt and the world is set to blow past that 1.5°C warming threshold, NPR asks climate scientists including Merritt Turetsky about three climate tipping points--points of no return that could cause big changes to the Earth's ecosystems.

A black-capped chickadee perches on a snowy tree branch. Photo by Amanda Frank via Unsplash.

The chickadee you see sitting on a tree? It might be a hybrid (CU Boulder Today)

Nov. 1, 2022

Hybrids of two common North American songbirds, the black-capped and mountain chickadee, are more likely to be found in places where humans have altered the landscape, finds new research by a team including INSTAAR Scott Taylor. The study is the first to positively correlate hybridization in any species with human-caused landscape changes. It also contradicts a long-standing assumption that these two birds rarely hybridize.

Warren Sconiers at one of his research sites on Niwot Ridge.

Warren Sconiers: A winding path of discovery through research and teaching (British Ecological Society)

Oct. 25, 2022

Warren Sconiers—an Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado Boulder interested in plant-insect interactions, insect ecology, and climate change—shares his story as part of Black History Month.

Color coded US map of how rain-on-snow events can create potential nitrogen sources. Northern areas of the northeast, midwest, and northwest coast have high potential.

As winters warm, nutrient pollution threatens 40% of U.S. (U Vermont)

Oct. 10, 2022

As climate changes, previously frozen chemical runoff from farms and fields puts water quality at risk in over 40 states, research says. Keith Musselman part of team looking at winter nutrient pollution, a new problem caused by climate change.

Cover of the Living Landscape book, showing a girl in a red shirt in a meadow

New children’s book explores The Living Landscape

Oct. 10, 2022

A new children’s book is centered in the Critical Zone, the thin outer layer of Earth’s surface from the tops of the trees down to bedrock where life exists and interacts with rock, soil, water, and air. Designed for 8 to 12-year olds, the book is by INSTAARs Eric Parrish and Suzanne Anderson and is published by Muddy Boots Books.