Greenland's <a href="http://www.windows2universe.org/earth/polar/cryosphere_glacier1.html">ice sheet</a> saw a record <a href="http://www.windows2universe.org/headline_universe/olpa/greenland_10dec07.html">melt</a> in July 2012.  Scientists studying this event have found that this melting event was triggered by an influx of unusually warm air and amplified by the presence of a blanket of thin low-level <a href="http://www.windows2universe.org/earth/Atmosphere/cloud.html">clouds</a> which pushed temperatures up above freezing.  For more information see the <a href="http://www.news.wisc.edu/21638">press release</a> from the University of Wisconsin Madison.<p><small><em>Image courtesy of University of Wisconsin-Madison</em></small></p>As permafrost thaws, the land, atmosphere, water resources, ecosystems, and human communities are affected. Coastal areas and hillsides are vulnerable to erosion by thawing of permafrost.  Thawing permafrost also causes a positive feedback to global warming, as carbon trapped within the once-frozen soils is released as <a href="/physical_science/chemistry/methane.html&dev=">methane</a>, a powerful <a href="/earth/climate/cli_greengas.html&dev=">greenhouse gas</a>.
Watch the NBC Learn video - <a href="/earth/changing_planet/permafrost_methane_intro.html&dev=">Thawing Permafrost and Methane</a> to find out more.<p><small><em>Image courtesy of the    USGS</em></small></p>A new study has found that <a href="/earth/Atmosphere/airpollution_intro.html&dev=">pollution</a> from <a href="/earth/Atmosphere/particulates.html&dev=">fine particles</a> in the air - mainly the result of burning coal or <a href="/earth/interior/eruptions.html&dev=">volcanic eruptions</a> - can shade <a href="/earth/Life/cnidarian.html&dev=">corals</a> from sunlight and cool the surrounding water resulting in reduced growth rates.  Coral growth rates in the Caribbean were affected by volcanic aerosol emissions in the early 20th century and by aerosol emissions caused by humans in the later 20th century.  For more information, see the <a href="http://www.exeter.ac.uk/news/featurednews/title_278202_en.html">press release</a>.<p><small><em>Image courtesy of Toby Hudson (Wikimedia Commons)</em></small></p>A <a href="http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/8/2/024035/article">study</a> of over 40,000 written entries in Irish Annals and ice core measurements shows a strong correlation between <a href="http://www.windows2universe.org/earth/interior/eruptions.html">volcanic eruptions</a> and extreme cold weather in Ireland over a 1200 year period, from 431 to 1649.  During this time up to 48 volcanic eruptions were identified in Greenland ice core records through deposition of volcanic sulfate in annual layers of ice. Find out more about <a href="http://www.windows2universe.org/earth/climate/geosphere_volcanoes_influence_on_climate.html">volcanoes and climate</a>.<p><small><em>Image Courtesy of Marco Fulle</em></small></p>Stars don't last forever. Occasionally, a star bigger than our Sun will end its life in a huge explosion, called a <a href="/the_universe/supernova.html&dev=">supernova</a>. The center of the star collapses in less than a second, blowing away the outer layers of the star.  There are many beautiful images of supernova remnants, the expanding shell of gas made up of the outer layers of the original star. This image is the Vela Supernova Remnant.<p><small><em>Image courtesy of the Anglo-Australian Observatory/Royal Observatory Edinburgh</em></small></p>How did life evolve on <a href="/earth/earth.html&dev=">Earth</a> during the <a href="/earth/past/Archean.html&dev=">Archean</a>, when the <a href="/sun/sun.html&dev=">Sun</a> was about 25% weaker than today?  The Earth should have been <a href="/earth/polar/cryosphere_glacier1.html&dev=">glaciated</a>, if <a href="/earth/climate/earth_greenhouse.html&dev=">greenhouse</a> gas concentration was the same as today.  <a href="http://www.manchester.ac.uk/aboutus/news/display/?id=10798">Researchers</a> studying the <a href="/physical_science/physics/atom_particle/isotope.html&dev=">isotopic</a> signatures of Earth's early atmosphere in <a href="/earth/geology/rocks_intro.html&dev=">rocks</a> from Northern Australia have ruled out high levels of <a href="/physical_science/chemistry/nitrogen_molecular.html&dev=">nitrogen</a> as a possible way to increase warming from <a href="/earth/Atmosphere/overview.html&dev=">atmospheric</a> <a href="/physical_science/chemistry/carbon_dioxide.html&dev=">carbon dioxide</a>.<p><small><em>Image courtesy of Manchester University</em></small></p>

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA