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First Cloud Map of a Planet Beyond our Solar System

After cataloging nearly a thousand worlds beyond our solar system, astronomers can now for the first time forecast cloudy skies on a distant exoplanet. While the above image may not resemble a weather map, it shows a first look at clouds on a hot, Jupiter-like world dubbed Kepler 7b, which resides nearly 1000 light years…

Study Links Arctic Sea Ice Loss With Changes in Atmospheric Circulation

By Emily Shenk National Geographic A skier crosses the Arctic Ocean, where the extent of summer sea ice has declined by about 30 percent during the last three decades. Photo by Dan Westergren A study published in the International Journal of Climatology in May adds to the growing research linking melting sea ice in the Arctic…

Missing Martian Atmosphere: Clues In Earth’s Cold Plasma?

“Invisible” veils of cold plasma discovered around Earth might tell us something about how Mars lost its atmosphere, experts say.

Will *You* Spot the First Truly Earthlike Planet?

UPDATE: In Wednesday’s press conference, the Kepler team announced the new public data includes readings on several hundred new planetary candidates. The findings increase the number of planet candidates Kepler’s found to 1,235. Of these, 68 are roughly Earth-size, 288 are super Earth-size, 662 are Neptune-size, 165 are Jupiter-size, and 19 are larger than Jupiter.…

Superstorm killed half a billion Amazon trees, researchers say

A single, huge, violent storm that swept across the whole Amazon forest in 2005 killed half a billion trees, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and Tulane University said today. AGU, a Washington, D.C.-based international nonprofit scientific association, and Tulane University, in New Orleans, released the findings of an investigation into a 124-mile-wide (200 kilometers) storm…

China’s Alibaba Group to “mobilize hundreds of millions” for environment

Alibaba Group, a global e-commerce company, will begin this year to earmark 0.3 percent of annual revenues “to fund efforts designed to spur environmental awareness and conservation in China and around the world,” the company announced. The group’s conservation strategy will focus on clean water and better air. “This financial commitment is part of a comprehensive plan…

Volcanic cloud engulfs European sky, shuts down flights

Britain is a no-fly zone. “Today’s closure of UK airspace is unprecedented. After the 9-11 terrorist attacks in America, transatlantic flights were suspended and the airspace over London alone was closed. But this is the first time all flights into and out of the UK have been grounded.”–Text message from BBC correspondent Jane Peel. The…

Springtime for Phoenix, Summer on Triton

Update: Even as I was typing this, the HiRISE team was posting a brand-new picture of a Martian avalanche! Check it out below … Spring is in bloom on Earth’s Northern Hemisphere, melting snows, coaxing out budding leaves on trees, and otherwise making its mark on the landscape. On northern Mars, spring has been revving…

UN: Oceans are 30 percent more acidic than before fossil fuels

By Daniel Grossman in Copenhagen Since I began taking interest in global warming, I’ve heard scientists say “beware of surprises.” In the esoteric field of climate research, a surprise is bad: a dangerous unanticipated change to Earth’s climate, weather patterns, ocean currents and other “Earth systems,” or life on the planet. We usually expect that…

Thousands of rallies worldwide demand action on climate crisis

The global warming movement finally went global yesterday, said 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben, in reaction to the International Day of Climate Action, marked yesterday by more than 5,000 demonstrations in 181 countries. A 350 is mowed into a meadow 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Copenhagen, where the United Nations Climate Change Conference will be held this December. This…

National Geographic targets deep cuts in its greenhouse gas emissions

Let the clean economy begin! With this rallying cry, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Climate Savers program has been joined by National Geographic and a number of large corporations committed to making substantial reductions in their emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas that is accelerating the warming of the Earth’s climate. National Geographic will work…

Earth’s Future May Rest on Risky Geoengineering, Scientists Conclude

The future of the Earth could rest on potentially dangerous and unproven geoengineering technologies unless emissions of carbon dioxide can be greatly reduced, the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of science, said today. Photo courtesy NASA “Unless future efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are much more successful than they have been so far,…

Air Pollution Cuts China’s “Useful” Rainfall, Study Finds

Air pollution in eastern China has reduced the amount of light rainfall over the past 50 years and decreased by 23 percent the number of days of light rain in the eastern half of the country, according to research published in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. The results suggest that bad air quality might be…

Cancers in Wildlife May Signal Health Threats to Humans

Are pollutants causing a surge in cancers in wildlife, threatening the conservation and even survival of some species? And is their fate a flashing light for the health of humans?” “Cancer is one of the leading health concerns for humans, accounting for more than 10 percent of human deaths,” said Denise McAloose, chief pathologist for…

“Kite” Turbines Could Power Megacities Like New York and Tokyo, Research Suggests

Five or six miles up in the atmosphere, near where airliners reach cruising altitude, very strong winds blow incessantly over many densely populated regions of the world. Researchers at the Carnegie Institution and California State University believe that, if the technical challenges can be resolved, large metropolises like New York, Seoul, and Tokyo may be…