Research

Highlights

Slowdown of Global Warming Fleeting

ESSC director Dr. Michael Mann, together with ESSC researchers Dr. Byron A. Steinman and Sonya K. Miller, have a new study about the causes of the recent slowdown in the warming rate of mean surface temperatures. In the study, the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) is playing a partial role in offsetting ongoing warming.
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Earth Will Cross the Climate Danger Threshold by 2036

ESSC director Dr. Michael Mann penned this article in April 2014's Scientific American about projections of climate change using an Energy Balance Model.
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New approach alters malaria maps

A recently published study in Nature Scientific Reports says that the risk of malarial infection is more closely linked to daily temperature variation than average monthly temperature. Mean temperatures had a tendency to overestimate or underestimate infection risk under certain climate conditions. Dr. Michael Mann is a co-author on this study.
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Ozone depletion trumps greenhouse gas increase in jet-stream shift

Ozone HoleESSC scientists Dr. Sukyoung Lee and Dr. Steven Feldstein have published a study in the journal Science that shows that ozone depletion and increases in greenhouse gas emissions have contributed to a southward shift of the jet stream in the Southern Hemisphere. This shift could have a significant impact on circuation and precipitation patterns.
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Professor leads team to Pine Island Glacier in the Antarctic

Pine Island Glacier (Kiya Riverman) ESSC scientist Dr. Sridhar Anandakrishnan is leading a research team to Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica to study interactions between the glacier, ocean, and ice shelf, especially under warming conditions. His team is attempting to map the glacier and shelf and determine both how thick the ice is and how deep the water underneath the shelf is.
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Multiple proxy datasets can clarify ancient climate regimes

ESSC postdoctoral researcher Dr. Byron Steinman has released a paper on his research looking at the historical record of drought in arid and semi-arid regions of the western United States. He examined both tree-ring records and oxygen isotopes as proxies for past precipitation and temperatures. Dr. Michael Mann was a collaborator and co-author.
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Tree rings may underestimate climate response to volcanic eruptions

Volcano, credit NPSA new study by Dr. Michael Mann and his colleagues posits that tree rings, often used as a proxy for temperature changes, may not capture intense short-term changes like cooling due to large volcanic eruptions. This study, published in Nature Geoscience, compares temperature reconstructions from tree-ring data to climate models driven by past volcanic eruptions.
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News articles:
Summit County Citizens Voice
Image Credit: National Parks Service

Climate balancing: Sea-level rise vs. surface temperature change rates

Recent research suggests geoengineering approaches which seek to reduce incoming solar energy as a way to combat rising greenhouse gas levels are an imperfect solution to the challenges of climate change. This research suggest that strategies for combating climate change need to balance the problems of sea-level rise as well as surface temperature changes. ESSC scientists Dr. Klaus Keller and Dr. Ryan Sriver participated in the research and comment on the findings.
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Rise of atmospheric oxygen more complicated than previously thought

drillingcoresRock cores from the 2007 Fennoscandia Arctic Russia - Drilling Early Earth Project (FAR DEEP) campaign suggest that the emergence of oxygen in Earth's atmosphere most likely occurred over a series of events rather than one singular event. This research was undertaken by a group headed by ESSC scientists Dr. Lee Kump and Dr. Michael Arthur.
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Salt marsh sediments help gauge climate-change-induced sea level rise

Salt Water MarshesScientists, including ESSC director Dr. Michael Mann, have recently released a new 2,000 year record of changes in sea level. This new record, derived from salt water sediment cores taken from the salt water marshes of North Carolina, should provide further insight into past and future climate change.
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Photo Credit: Andrew Kemp, Yale University

Penn State expert determined to find life on Earth-like planets

Dr. James Kasting, photo courtesy PSU public relationsThis profile of ESSC Scientist Dr. James Kasting details his latest work in applying knowledge gained about early Earth to identifying other Earth-like planets capable of supporting life. He has written a book to explain some of this research. The book, called "How to Find a Habitable Planet," can be found here.
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Photo Courtesy Penn State Public Relations

Carbon release to atmosphere 10 times faster than in the past

Graduate student Ying Cui, ESSC Scientist Dr. Lee Kump, and their colleagues have published a new study in Nature Geoscience that estimates that the current rate of carbon release to the atmosphere is 10 times greater than during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM, 55.9 million years ago). The PETM is often regarded as an analog for current and future changes in climate, but the faster release of carbon in the modern era could mean that ecosystems may not be able to adapt to changes.
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2011 Atlantic hurricane season prediction calls for above average activity

2010 Hurricane Season overviewESSC Scientist Michael Mann and researcher Michael Kozar have released their prediction for the 2011 North Atlantic hurricane season, which starts on June 1st. The prediction is for 16.25 +/- 4.0 total named storms, which corresponds to between 12 and 20 storms with a best estimate of 16 named storms.
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Image Credit Weather Underground

Mann and Kozar release 2010 Atlantic hurricane season prediction

QuikSCAT image of Hurricane Katrina (2005) Credit: NASA/VisibleEarthESSC director Dr. Michael Mann and graduate student Michael Kozar have recently released their prediction for the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from 1 June to 30 November. Mann and Kozar predict an extremely active season due to warmer than average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and projections of near-neutral or slightly cool ENSO conditions.
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Image Credit NASA/VisibleEarth

Ancient leaves help researchers understand future climate

Diefendorf et al., 2010
Graduate students Aaron Diefendorf and Kevin Mueller have recently published a paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences looking at signature of carbon in fossilized plants. They hope studying two natural non-radioactive isotope of carbon from past warming events can reveal clues into possible ecological responses to future climate change. Diefendorf's advisor, ESSC scientist Dr. Kate Freeman, is a co-author on the publication.
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Tiny shelled creatures shed light on extinction and recovery

Jiang et al., 2010Post-doctoral associate Shijun Jiang and ESSC scientist Dr. Timothy Bralower, along with several colleagues including ESSC scientist Dr. Lee Kump, have published a new study in Nature Geoscience looking at both the extinction of nannoplankton at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary and the subsequent recovery of the marine ecosystem.
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Probing Question: How fast are the polar ice sheets melting?

ESSC scientist Sridhar Anandakrishnan tackles this question in the latest edition of "Probing Questions" from Research/Penn State. DeLene Beeland reports on Anandakrishnan's description of and research on the changing polar climate.
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Past regional cold and warm periods linked to natural climate drivers

Mann et al 2009 ScienceA new article by ESSC director Dr. Michael Mann and his colleagues examines intervals of regional warming or cooling and links them to natural climate phenomena including El Nino and the North Atlantic Oscillation. The researchers used proxy data to reconstruct and study spatial temperature patterns over the last 1,500 years.
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Read a synopsis by USA Today's "Science Fair" blog by Dan Vergano >>
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Climate change may drastically alter Chesapeake Bay

ESSC scientist Dr. Ray Najjar and his colleagues have recently authored an article about potential changes in the Chesapeake Bay due to anticipated changes in the Earth's climate. These changes include both physical changes to the Bay's temperature, acidity, and sea level as well as related changes to this important ecosystem.
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Nature article estimates Atlantic hurricanes and climate over the past 1,500 years

Figure 3 from Mann et al.ESSC director Dr. Michael Mann and his colleagues have recently published a paper in Nature titled, "Atlantic Hurricanes and climate over the Past 1500 Years." This article details their work in reconstructing the North Atlantic tropical system record for the past 1,500 years using a combination of sedimentary records and statistical models of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation, tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures and the North Atlantic Oscillation. The researchers found that La Niña-like conditions in the Pacific Ocean combined with anomalously warm waters in the Atlantic led to a very active period around AD 1000.
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NPR's All Things Considered talks to Dr. Mann >>
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Other news links: Houston Chronicle, BBC, USAToday, New York Times, NYTimes "Climatewire", ScienceNOW, National Post, UPI, Daily Green, NY Daily News , Christian Science Monitor, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Washington Post "Capital Weather Gang", Softpedia, WWL

 

Researchers make prediction for 2009 North Atlantic Hurricane Season

Dr. Michael Mann and graduate student Tom Sabbatelli have made a prediction for the 2009 Hurricane season using the statistical model outlined in their 2007 paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research.
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Animations of Antarctic ice sheet changes over 10 million years (updated 2009)

Antarctic ice sheet

Dr. David Pollard, along with his colleagues, has run several model simulations of the Antarctic climate from the last 10 million years. By studying the dramatic changes from past eras, he seeks to better understand the response of Antarctic ice to changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.
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Speed matters for ice shelf breaking

ice bergsDr. Richard Alley, Dr. Sridhar Anandakrishnan, and their associates have developed a new equation for determining where icebergs will calve off of ice sheets. They found that the rate at which the ice sheet is spreading is the most important factor in determining the location of the calving. This equation should help scientist develop better ice sheet models.
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Image Credit: Mike Usher, National Science Foundation

Sea level rise alters bay's salinity

Chesapeake BayESSC scientist Dr. Raymond Najjar and his colleagues have been studying the Chesapeake Bay and possible effects of sea level rise on the bay's salinity and marine life. They found that sea level rise has increased salinity in the bay over the past 60 years.
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Image Credit: NOAA

Global warming greatest in the past decade

Temperature reconstructionsDr. Michael Mann, together with his colleagues, has published the latest reconstructions of temperatures from the last 1,300 years. These reconstructions show that the most recent decade has the warmest temperatures in the last millennia.
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Saving lives while wildfires burn

Dr. Bernd Haupt has teamed up with scientists from Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment (PSIEE) to convert weather forecast products from the National Weather Service to a GIS-ready product that can be used by other scientists as well as decision-makers who rely on weather data. This work has been featured in a video showing how foresters use the tools in wildfire management.
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Phytoplankton bounce back from abrupt climate change

The majority of tiny marine plants weathered the abrupt climate changes that occurred in Earth’s past and bounced back, according to a Penn State geoscientist. "Populations of plankton are pretty resilient," says Timothy J. Bralower, department head and professor of geosciences. Bralower looked at cores of marine sediments related to thousands of years of deposition, to locate populations of these plankton during three periods of abrupt climate change.
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Testing the Fidelity of Climate Reconstruction Methods

Proxy reconstructionDr. Michael Mann and his colleagues, in a recently published paper, reconstructed past climate histories using the two most common techniques for processing "proxy" climate data. Climate Field Reconstruction (CFR, well suited for spatial patterns) and Composite-Plus-Scale (CPS, with a simpler statistical procedure) methods are used in this study. Results are tested for long-term fidelity against climate model simulations.
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EOS article highlights research of two ESSC scientists

Global SalintyA computer simulation suggests that circulation of the world's oceans, known as the "global conveyor," may depend on slight differences in salt concentrations between the North Atlantic and the North Pacific oceans. In their experiments, Dan Seidov and Bernd Haupt modeled the movement of ocean waters over 10,000 years.
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GRL Article Highlighted by AGU

AMO FigureThe Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) is a pattern of multi-decadal surface temperature variability centered on the North Atlantic Ocean, seen in analyses of global climate using measurements dating back to the 19th century.
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