Is there an upper limit to the greenhouse gas effect?

Greenhouse Effect on Venus

Editor’s Note: Learn More About Climate recently received an interesting question through our Ask A Scientist feature: I have recently heard the claim that "the atmospheric absorption bands for CO2 are already saturated" so the addition of more CO2 to the atmosphere is moot. I trust this is not the whole story, and would like to understand why such a claim is not accepted by the (vast) majority of climate scientists. CU-Boulder post-doctoral student Anondo Mukherjee reached out to Professor Peter Pilewskie who teaches Radiative Transfer with the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic … [Read more...]

Ozone gardens at CU-Boulder and NCAR reveal harmful effects of pollution

Ozone Garden

Most people have heard about the harmful effects of pollution on human and plant health, but until recently, visualizing such effects took some imagination. Now, new “ozone gardens” at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Museum of Natural History and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Mesa Laboratory make the evidence startlingly clear. Visits to the gardens are free and open to the public. Scientists at CU-Boulder and NCAR are growing plants that develop brown and black spots on their leaves when exposed to harmful air pollution. The ozone gardens feature particular … [Read more...]

CU-Boulder and NCAR researchers seek to reduce deadly air pollution from cooking emissions

cookstoves

A $1.5 million grant from the Environmental Protection Agency will help researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Center for Atmospheric Research measure pollution from residential cooking and better understand a problem that kills millions of women and children each year in the developing world. According to the EPA, more than 3 billion people worldwide rely on the burning of wood, plant matter, coal and waste for cooking or heating. Exposure to cookstove emissions, particularly indoor exposure, ranks as one of the five worst overall health risk factors in poor … [Read more...]

Methane leaks from palm oil wastewater are climate concern, CU-Boulder study says

Hana Fancher, Philip Taylor methane research palm oil wastewater ponds

In recent years, palm oil production has come under fire from environmentalists concerned about the deforestation of land in the tropics to make way for new palm plantations. Now there is a new reason to be concerned about palm oil’s environmental impact, according to researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder. An analysis published Feb. 26 in the journal Nature Climate Change shows that the wastewater produced during the processing of palm oil is a significant source of heat-trapping methane in the atmosphere. But the researchers also present a possible solution: capturing the … [Read more...]

Amazonian drought conditions add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere

Amazon River through the rainforest

This article originally appeared on the University of Colorado Boulder website. As climates change, the lush tropical ecosystems of the Amazon Basin may release more of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than they absorb, according to a new study published Feb. 6 in Nature. An international team of scientists found that the amount of yearly rainfall was the driving factor behind the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) taken up and released from Amazonia in 2010 and 2011. During a wet year, the Amazon forests were roughly carbon-neutral: Forests “inhaled” more carbon … [Read more...]