An ice core from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide is giving scientists a hint at the continent’s seasonal temperatures across millennia. Photo by Heidi Roop/NSF, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Ice cores record long-ago seasons in Antarctica (AGU Eos)

March 17, 2023

Researchers led by INSTAAR Tyler Jones used ice core data to reconstruct seasonal temperatures throughout the Holocene. The results link especially hot summers with patterns in Earth’s orbit. The results are the first seasonal temperature record stretching back 11,000 years.

A series of atmospheric rivers in early 2023 covered the Sierra Nevada in snow. Mario Tama, Getty Images.

Why rain on snow in the California mountains worries scientists (The Conversation)

March 14, 2023

Another round of powerful atmospheric rivers is hitting California, following storms in January and February 2023 that dumped record amounts of snow. This time, the storms are warmer, and are triggering flood warnings as they bring rain higher into the mountains on top of the snowpack. Keith Musselman explains the complex risks rain on snow creates and how they might change in a warming climate.

Khumbu Valley and Mount Everest, Chomolungma. by  Kalle Kortelainen

When someone sneezes on Everest, their germs can last for centuries (CU Boulder Today)

March 14, 2023

INSTAAR journal 'Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research' published an article on how mountain climbers can leave behind a frozen legacy of hardy microbes, which can withstand harsh conditions at high elevations and lie dormant in the soil for decades or even centuries.

Elephant bird eggshells lie exposed on a beach in Madagascar. Photo by Giff Miller.

How 1,200-year-old eggs from a 9-foot tall, 1,500-pound bird led to a scientific breakthrough (USA Today)

March 11, 2023

Towering over nine feet tall and weighing over 1,500 pounds, the now-extinct aepyornis lived more than 1,200 years ago and was Madagascar’s largest land animal. Scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder and Curtin University in Australia recently discovered a new lineage of the birds using eggshell remnants, as well as isotope geochemistry and protein extraction. The findings were published in Nature Communications.

The field team in May 2007, while i Madagascar where the samples in the paper were collected. From left to right: Ramil, lead guide from the National Museum in Antananarivo; Gifford Miller; Steve DeVogel; and guide Nemad. Photo courtesy Gifford Miller.

Giant eggshells reveal the secrets of Madagascar's elephant birds (NPR)

March 8, 2023

Before they were driven to extinction, giant elephant birds roamed Madagascar, weighing up to 2,000 pounds and towering 10 feet tall. A new analysis of DNA in their eggshells gives new information about the birds and identifies a previously unknown lineage. The story is a 2-minute listen on National Public Radio.

Seabirds float in coastal waters off Massachusetts. Photo by Shelly Sommer, 2022.

Ocean surface tipping point could accelerate climate change (EurekAlert)

March 7, 2023

The oceans help to limit global warming by soaking up carbon dioxide emissions. But scientists have discovered that intense warming in the future could lessen that ability, leading to even more severe warming. The discovery comes from a study led by The University of Texas at Austin and including INSTAAR Nikki Lovenduski.

The Colorado River flowing through the Grand Canyon on its way to Lake Mead. Bas Vermolen/Getty Images.

The search for solutions to Colorado’s water crisis (5280)

March 6, 2023

An extensive essay in 5280 outlines the history, status, and potential responses to Colorado's ongoing--and growing--water shortage. Noah Molotch describes his work calculating snow-water equivalent using remote sensing as part of the piece.

Surface scatter of Aepyornis eggshell exposed by active wind erosion of sand dunes in which the birds nested. Photo by Gifford Miller.

Ancient eggshells unlock discovery of extinct elephant bird lineage (CU Boulder Today)

March 1, 2023

More than 1,200 years ago, elephant birds roamed the island of Madagascar. While these ostrich-like giants are now extinct, new research from CU Boulder and Curtin University in Australia reveals that their eggshell remnants hold valuable clues about their time on Earth. Published today in Nature Communications, the study describes the discovery of a previously unknown, separate lineage of elephant bird that roamed the wet, forested landscapes on the northeastern side of Madagascar—a discovery made without access to any skeletal remains.

Snow covers the rugged terrain of Sierra Nevada mountaintops.

How the winter storm could impact California reservoirs (Newsweek)

Feb. 23, 2023

Southern California is bracing for a cold winter storm that is expected to bring up to 5 feet of snow accumulation in certain areas. Noah Molotch and other LTER hydrologists are interviewed about the state of California's snowpack and water supply.

Julio Sepulveda speaks about ocean microbes and how we can protect our ecosystems to a packed house at the Dairy Center.

The secret stories of ocean microbes (Research & Innovation Community Talk on YouTube)

Feb. 23, 2023

As part of CU Boulder's annual Research & Innovation Week (October 17–21, 2022), the 2022 Faculty Fellows gave short TED-style talks in the Gordon Gamm Theater at the Dairy Arts Center in Boulder. In this talk, Dr. Julio Sepúlveda describes the microbes that fill our oceans, the impact of climate change on the ecosystems that depend on those microbes, and his research group’s work to better understand how we can all contribute to protecting our oceans and our planet.