News | Research

INSTAAR research is featured in thousands of news stories 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. Selected highlights are listed below. Additional stories are noted @INSTAAR on Twitter.

Dentition of a modern baboon. Caj and his colleagues use tooth enamel from dentitions like this in their studies

Uncovering the real paleo diet: Novel isotope analytics of amino acids from fossil hominin teeth (Max Planck Institute for Chemistry)

April 12, 2023

Caj Neubauer and his colleagues are developing techniques to unlock hominin paleodietary information from fossil amino acids and other compounds in tooth enamel. Together, they are seeking to transform anthropology through their deep look into fossil molecules.

Group photo from Arctic Rivers Summit in Anchorage, December 2022. Photo by Keith Musselman.

As rising temperatures affect Alaskan rivers, effects ripple through Indigenous communities (CU Boulder Today)

April 11, 2023

Streamflow is increasing in Alaskan rivers during both spring and fall seasons, primarily due to increasing air temperatures over the past 60 years, creating dangers and difficulties for local communities. New CU Boulder-led research quantifies consequences already observed and experienced for generations by local Indigenous communities who rely on these rivers for their livelihoods.

Covered in netting to deflect stray balls, instruments gather methane data on the seventh hole of Midnight Sun Golf Course in Alaska. Permafrost is rapidly thawing across the far north, releasing the highly potent greenhouse gas, which leads to more warming. Photo by Frankie

The Arctic's permafrost-obsessed methane detectives (Wired)

April 7, 2023

The Far North is thawing, unleashing clouds of planet-heating gas. Tyler Jones, Bruce Vaughn, and Kevin Rozmiarek use detectors on drones or carried by hand to measure methane release from permafrost in Alaska.

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.