Glaciers in the Alps of Europe pose a scientific mystery. They started melting rapidly back in the 1860s. In a span of about 50 years, some of the biggest glaciers had retreated more than half a mile.
But nobody could explain the glacier's rapid decline. Now, a new study from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory uncovers a possible clue to why the glaciers melted before temperatures started rising: Soot from the Industrial Revolution could have heated up the ice.
A study in the journal Nature could help explain why the Earth's average temperature hasn't increased during the past 15 years — despite a long-term trend of global warming.
The Earth's average temperature has risen by more than 1 degree Fahrenheit since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. But the temperature rise has not been moving in lock step with the rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide — mainly from burning fossil fuels — traps heat in the air.
Drought and forest management are big topics in Colorado. More so, following this summer's destructive Black Forest Fire and the 2012 fire season. Penn State Professor Matthew Hurteau explains more on climate's link to fires in this video.
"Well, with prolonged drought, what you're doing is priming the system to make it more flammable. The other side is that we got roughly a century of fire suppression policy. So now, what used to be open forest is pretty closed canopy forest, so there's a lot more trees." - Matthew Hurteau
Next month, a scientific committee sponsored by the United Nations will put out its latest assessment of climate change. The report is expected to underscore yet again that climate change is a serious problem and human beings are largely responsible.