News | Research

INSTAAR research is featured in thousands of news stories per year and more than 10,000 social media posts per year. Outlets include the New York Times, Washington Post, PBS NewsHour, National Public Radio, and as well as more regional news outlets like High Country News, 9News, and the Denver Post.  The below list is a set of selected highlights.  Additional stories are noted @INSTAAR on Twitter.

Miles Moore and Jimmy Howe toss black sand onto a test plot on Niwot Ridge. Photo by Kelsey Simpkins, CU Boulder.

To study impacts of longer, hotter summers, ecologists haul 5,000 pounds of sand up a mountain (CU Boulder Today)

Sept. 12, 2022

For the past five years, a team of research assistants and volunteers have hiked up Niwot Ridge in late May to set the stage for a unique experiment in which they spread 5,000 pounds of black sand across portions of the remaining snowpack. Their goal is to simulate the near-future effects of a warming planet on alpine ecosystems.

Pika on a talus slope, by Derek Ryder via Unsplash

CU Boulder study finds climate change impacts in mountain microclimates (Broomfield Leader)

Sept. 7, 2022

Some effects of climate change are dramatic and visible, like wildfires and extreme weather, but a new study led by Chris Ray found that climate change can impact even hidden places and some of the state’s smallest residents: pikas.

Stone globes outside the entrance to the Benson Geological Sciences building on CU Boulder campus

CU’s Earth, atmospheric sciences rank No. 1 and No. 2 in world, along with other high standings (CU Boulder Today)

Aug. 11, 2022

CU Boulder's earth sciences and atmospheric science disciplines ranked No. 1 and No. 2 globally in the ShanghaiRanking Consultancy’s 2022 Global Ranking of Academic Subjects (GRAS). The annual ranking includes over 1,800 universities from 96 countries scored across 54 academic subject categories.

Herd of bison in a grassland

Oft-overlooked grasslands build biodiversity, resilience over centuries (CU Boulder Today)

Aug. 4, 2022

Grasslands’ biodiversity and resilience to disturbances such as fire, heat and drought is the result of a slow process over hundreds of years, like that of old growth forests, finds new CU research led by INSTAAR Katharine Suding that was published today in Science. An implication of the research is that it's important to conserve grasslands that are still intact.

Narrow canyon in Lake Powell showing lowered water level

Climate change will make it hard to predict the amount of snow and water that will be available (ABC News)

July 20, 2022

A new study that included Will Wieder and Keith Musselman finds that snow-free seasons are expected to last longer, putting Northern Hemisphere water supplies at risk.

Mountain stream flows in a wide grassy valley with snowcapped peaks in background

Water resources to become less predictable with climate change (NCAR & UCAR News)

July 18, 2022

Water resources will fluctuate increasingly and become more difficult to predict in snow-dominated regions across the Northern Hemisphere by later this century, according to a comprehensive new climate change study. Even regions that keep receiving the same amount of precipitation will experience more variable and unpredictable streamflow as snowpack recedes.

Map of dry vs wet conditions for coterminous US

These maps illustrate the seriousness of the western drought (Washington Post)

June 16, 2022

Historic drought has depleted groundwater, melted the snowpack, and dried up lakes--and it will get worse. Washington Post visual story (paywall) illustrated by maps from the Mountain Hydrology Lab.

Glacial blue lake in Tibet after a sudden drop in lake level due to an outburst flood

Nepal’s mountains are melting (Nepali Times)

June 5, 2022

Climate scientist Alton Byers takes a close look at three recent and poorly understood glacial lake outburst floods in the Himalaya. The stored lake water that is suddenly released can cause enormous death and devastation downstream.

Drawing of Genyornis newtoni, a thunderbird from the pleistocene of Australia

Egg-eating humans helped drive Australia’s ‘thunder bird’ to extinction (Science)

May 27, 2022

The giant bird Genyornis newtoni disappeared from Australia 45,000 years ago, and researchers have long puzzled over whether human hunters or climate change was the culprit. Now, a new analysis of ancient eggshells—the leftovers of a prehistoric feast—suggests humans were responsible. Study led by Giff Miller. Illustration by Nobu Tamura.

Gifford Miller collects fragments of eggshells believed to be remnants of the extinct Genyornis

Bits of an extinct bird’s eggshells may be clue to why megafauna vanished (Washington Post)

May 26, 2022

A new study led by Giff Miller suggests that the 500-pound Genyornis newtoni laid the eggs marked by cooking fires in Australia, and not a smaller bird. The study could shed light on an even bigger scientific mystery, of why megafauna went extinct shortly after the advent of humans on the continent.

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