The Far-Reaching Effects of Smog: Is It a Driver of Drought?

Black carbon and tropospheric ozone, two pollutants typically associated with urban smog, may be key drivers in the advance of the northern tropics.

The northern tropics are on a march toward the pole. Over the last thirty years, the warm, moist belt around the equator has expanded by between 2-and-8 degrees northward.

When the phenomenon was first described five years ago, it was thought to be fueled primarily by carbon dioxide emissions. But a report, published recently by University of California at Riverside researchers in the journal Nature, has proposed a new driver of the expanding tropics: soot and ozone pollution generated largely by wood burning and diesel combustion in the rapidly developing nations of Southeast Asia. Continue reading

Iconic Icebreaker Makes Last Voyage — to Scrapyard

A reminder of U.S. vulnerability in the polar seas?

The retired Coast Guard icebreaker Glacier prepares for its final voyage.

Glaciers are slipping away everywhere. It was tough to see this one go.

I’m talking about a ship, not an actual river of ice. This morning I watched the retired Coast Guard icebreaker Glacier cast off on what is likely to be its final voyage, from a Vallejo dry dock to a scrapyard in Brownsville, Texas. It seemed like a poignant moment, given the decline of the U.S. icebreaker fleet. Just as Arctic seas are opening up to unprecedented shipping activity, the Coast Guard is left with just one icebreaker in working order. Icebreakers are important research platforms and could play a vital role in responding to oil spills from offshore drilling in far northern waters. Continue reading