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.

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.

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.

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.

Rainbow visible over Lake Oroville from the top of Oroville Dam in Butte County California.

Researchers find that heavy snowmelt plus usually warm temperatures amped up Oroville Dam incident

July 23, 2020

In February 2017, failures in the spillways of Oroville Dam forced the evacuation of 188,000 people and caused $1 billion in damage repairs. According to scientists, including INSTAARs Keith Musselman, Leanne Lestak, and Noah Molotch, a warmer climate might create more dangerous events like this.

Penguin on ice floe

The South Pole feels Pacific heat

June 29, 2020

In a "news and views" piece in Nature Climate Change, INSTAAR Sharon Stammerjohn and CIRES researcher Ted Scambos spell out the evidence and consequences of rapid warming at the South Pole and call for action to “flatten the curve” of global carbon emissions.

Chad Wolak prepares NOAA air samples for carbon-14 measurement.

Tracking fossil fuel emissions with carbon-14

June 1, 2020

Researchers from NOAA and the University of Colorado have devised a breakthrough method for estimating national emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels using ambient air samples and a well-known isotope of carbon scientists have relied on for decades to date archaeological sites. In a paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they report the first-ever national scale estimate of fossil-fuel derived carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions obtained by observing CO2 and its naturally occurring radioisotope, carbon-14, from air samples collected by NOAA’s Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network.

Colorful satellite image of the Lena River delta flowing into the Arctic ocean

Accounting for the missing silica in the marine sediment cycle (AGU Eos)

Jan. 17, 2018

Shaily Rahman led a study using cosmogenic silicon to estimate the amount of biogenic silica stored in clays along continental margins. The team's findings may explain a longstanding, large discrepancy in the global marine silica budget. Understanding silicon is especially important because of its influence on primary production and the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.