Progress Article

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  • Progress Article |

    Marine macroalgae are dominant primary producers in coastal zones. A review of the published literature suggests that macroalgae may play an important role in carbon sequestration.

    • Dorte Krause-Jensen
    •  & Carlos M. Duarte
  • Progress Article |

    The Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum was associated with a massive release of carbon. Marine sediments suggest a temporary deepening of the calcite compensation depth, indicating extensive silicate weatheringin the aftermath of the event.

    • Donald E. Penman
    • , Sandra Kirtland Turner
    • , Philip F. Sexton
    • , Richard D. Norris
    • , Alexander J. Dickson
    • , Slah Boulila
    • , Andy Ridgwell
    • , Richard E. Zeebe
    • , James C. Zachos
    • , Adele Cameron
    • , Thomas Westerhold
    •  & Ursula Röhl
  • Progress Article |

    Sea surface temperatures have varied over the past 2,000 years. A synthesis of surface-temperature reconstructions shows ocean surface cooling from ad 1 to 1800, with much of the trend from 800 to 1800 driven by volcanic eruptions.

    • Helen V. McGregor
    • , Michael N. Evans
    • , Hugues Goosse
    • , Guillaume Leduc
    • , Belen Martrat
    • , Jason A. Addison
    • , P. Graham Mortyn
    • , Delia W. Oppo
    • , Marit-Solveig Seidenkrantz
    • , Marie-Alexandrine Sicre
    • , Steven J. Phipps
    • , Kandasamy Selvaraj
    • , Kaustubh Thirumalai
    • , Helena L. Filipsson
    •  & Vasile Ersek
  • Progress Article |

    Glaciers and polar ice sheets store and release a small but important pool of organic carbon. The changing climate is making glaciers an increasingly important driver of carbon dynamics in aquatic ecosystems.

    • Eran Hood
    • , Tom J. Battin
    • , Jason Fellman
    • , Shad O'Neel
    •  & Robert G. M. Spencer
  • Progress Article |

    The amount of carbon stored in peats exceeds that stored in vegetation. A synthesis of the literature suggests that smouldering fires in peatlands could become more common as the climate warms, and release old carbon to the air.

    • Merritt R. Turetsky
    • , Brian Benscoter
    • , Susan Page
    • , Guillermo Rein
    • , Guido R. van der Werf
    •  & Adam Watts
  • Progress Article |

    The removal of trace gases from the troposphere is, in most cases, initialized by reactions with hydroxyl radicals. An evaluation of this process (sometimes termed self-cleansing) using existing observations from environments with different atmospheric compositions suggests that it runs at maximum efficiency.

    • Franz Rohrer
    • , Keding Lu
    • , Andreas Hofzumahaus
    • , Birger Bohn
    • , Theo Brauers
    • , Chih-Chung Chang
    • , Hendrik Fuchs
    • , Rolf Häseler
    • , Frank Holland
    • , Min Hu
    • , Kazuyuki Kita
    • , Yutaka Kondo
    • , Xin Li
    • , Shengrong Lou
    • , Andreas Oebel
    • , Min Shao
    • , Limin Zeng
    • , Tong Zhu
    • , Yuanhang Zhang
    •  & Andreas Wahner
  • Progress Article |

    The Indonesian seas provide the only connection between ocean basins in the tropics. A review of observational data and model results concludes that vertical mixing determines the physical properties of water in the Indonesian throughflow.

    • Janet Sprintall
    • , Arnold L. Gordon
    • , Ariane Koch-Larrouy
    • , Tong Lee
    • , James T. Potemra
    • , Kandaga Pujiana
    •  & Susan E. Wijffels
  • Progress Article |

    A 500,000-year-long period of warmth in the middle Eocene was marked by high atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and prolonged dissolution of carbonate in the deep oceans. Numerical simulations attempting to capture these features identify gaps in our understanding of the causes of this and similar perturbations.

    • Appy Sluijs
    • , Richard E. Zeebe
    • , Peter K. Bijl
    •  & Steven M. Bohaty
  • Progress Article |

    Temperature change over the past 2,000 years has shown pronounced regional variability. An assessment of all available continental temperature reconstructions shows a clear twentieth century warming trend, but no evidence of a coherent Little Ice Age or Medieval Warm Period.

    • Moinuddin Ahmed
    • , Kevin J. Anchukaitis
    • , Asfawossen Asrat
    • , Hemant P. Borgaonkar
    • , Martina Braida
    • , Brendan M. Buckley
    • , Ulf Büntgen
    • , Brian M. Chase
    • , Duncan A. Christie
    • , Edward R. Cook
    • , Mark A. J. Curran
    • , Henry F. Diaz
    • , Jan Esper
    • , Ze-Xin Fan
    • , Narayan P. Gaire
    • , Quansheng Ge
    • , Joëlle Gergis
    • , J Fidel González-Rouco
    • , Hugues Goosse
    • , Stefan W. Grab
    • , Nicholas Graham
    • , Rochelle Graham
    • , Martin Grosjean
    • , Sami T. Hanhijärvi
    • , Darrell S. Kaufman
    • , Thorsten Kiefer
    • , Katsuhiko Kimura
    • , Atte A. Korhola
    • , Paul J. Krusic
    • , Antonio Lara
    • , Anne-Marie Lézine
    • , Fredrik C. Ljungqvist
    • , Andrew M. Lorrey
    • , Jürg Luterbacher
    • , Valérie Masson-Delmotte
    • , Danny McCarroll
    • , Joseph R. McConnell
    • , Nicholas P. McKay
    • , Mariano S. Morales
    • , Andrew D. Moy
    • , Robert Mulvaney
    • , Ignacio A. Mundo
    • , Takeshi Nakatsuka
    • , David J. Nash
    • , Raphael Neukom
    • , Sharon E. Nicholson
    • , Hans Oerter
    • , Jonathan G. Palmer
    • , Steven J. Phipps
    • , Maria R. Prieto
    • , Andres Rivera
    • , Masaki Sano
    • , Mirko Severi
    • , Timothy M. Shanahan
    • , Xuemei Shao
    • , Feng Shi
    • , Michael Sigl
    • , Jason E. Smerdon
    • , Olga N. Solomina
    • , Eric J. Steig
    • , Barbara Stenni
    • , Meloth Thamban
    • , Valerie Trouet
    • , Chris S.M. Turney
    • , Mohammed Umer
    • , Tas van Ommen
    • , Dirk Verschuren
    • , Andre E. Viau
    • , Ricardo Villalba
    • , Bo M. Vinther
    • , Lucien von Gunten
    • , Sebastian Wagner
    • , Eugene R. Wahl
    • , Heinz Wanner
    • , Johannes P. Werner
    • , James W.C. White
    • , Koh Yasue
    •  & Eduardo Zorita
  • Progress Article |

    Glacial ice covers around 10% of the Earth's continents. A review of the literature suggests that microbes living on glaciers and ice sheets are an integral part of both the glacial environment and the Earth's ecosystem.

    • Marek Stibal
    • , Marie Šabacká
    •  & Jakub Žárský
  • Progress Article |

    Climate change is governed by changes to the global energy balance. A synthesis of the latest observations suggests that more longwave radiation is received at the Earth's surface than previously thought, and that more precipitation is generated.

    • Graeme L. Stephens
    • , Juilin Li
    • , Martin Wild
    • , Carol Anne Clayson
    • , Norman Loeb
    • , Seiji Kato
    • , Tristan L'Ecuyer
    • , Paul W. Stackhouse Jr
    • , Matthew Lebsock
    •  & Timothy Andrews
  • Progress Article |

    The beginning of the Holocene interglacial was marked by ice-sheet melting and sea-level rise. A review of sea level and climate records identifies two sea-level jumps associated with the final drainage of glacial Lake Agassiz, and links them to an abrupt cooling event.

    • Torbjörn E. Törnqvist
    •  & Marc P. Hijma
  • Progress Article |

    The growth of the smallest atmospheric particles to sizes at which they may act as seeds for cloud droplets is a key step linking aerosols to clouds and climate. A synthesis of research indicates that the mechanisms controlling this growth depend on the size of the growing particle.

    • Ilona Riipinen
    • , Taina Yli-Juuti
    • , Jeffrey R. Pierce
    • , Tuukka Petäjä
    • , Douglas R. Worsnop
    • , Markku Kulmala
    •  & Neil M. Donahue
  • Progress Article |

    Hydrothermal vents in the sea floor release large volumes of hot, metal-rich fluids into the deep ocean. Mounting evidence suggests that organic compounds bind to and stabilize metals in hydrothermal fluids, thereby increasing metal flux to the open ocean.

    • Sylvia G. Sander
    •  & Andrea Koschinsky
  • Progress Article |

    Soils are the main terrestrial reservoir of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, and of organic carbon. Data synthesis reveals that soil erosion can result in lateral fluxes of these nutrients at comparable magnitudes to those induced by fertilizer application and crop removal.

    • John N. Quinton
    • , Gerard Govers
    • , Kristof Van Oost
    •  & Richard D. Bardgett
  • Progress Article |

    Arsenic levels in shallow groundwater in the Bengal Basin exceed thresholds for safe drinking water. Groundwater modelling indicates that deep wells that reach safe water below 150 m could remain safe for centuries if used for domestic water only, whereas the intensive use of deep groundwater for irrigation could contaminate this resource within decades.

    • W. G. Burgess
    • , M. A. Hoque
    • , H. A. Michael
    • , C. I. Voss
    • , G. N. Breit
    •  & K. M. Ahmed
  • Progress Article |

    Carbon dioxide uptake by the terrestrial biosphere has the potential to mitigate fossil fuel emissions. Comprehensive estimates of Europe's greenhouse-gas balance suggest that any uptake of carbon dioxide by the terrestrial biosphere is offset by methane and nitrous oxide emissions.

    • E. D. Schulze
    • , S. Luyssaert
    • , P. Ciais
    • , A. Freibauer
    • , I. A. Janssens
    • , J. F. Soussana
    • , P. Smith
    • , J. Grace
    • , I. Levin
    • , B. Thiruchittampalam
    • , M. Heimann
    • , A. J. Dolman
    • , R. Valentini
    • , P. Bousquet
    • , P. Peylin
    • , W. Peters
    • , C. Rödenbeck
    • , G. Etiope
    • , N. Vuichard
    • , M. Wattenbach
    • , G. J. Nabuurs
    • , Z. Poussi
    • , J. Nieschulze
    •  & J. H. Gash
  • Progress Article |

    Efforts to control climate change require the stabilization of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. An assessment of the trends in sources and sinks of atmospheric carbon dioxide suggests that the sinks are not keeping up with the increase in carbon dioxide emissions, but uncertainties are still large.

    • Corinne Le Quéré
    • , Michael R. Raupach
    • , Josep G. Canadell
    • , Gregg Marland
    • , Laurent Bopp
    • , Philippe Ciais
    • , Thomas J. Conway
    • , Scott C. Doney
    • , Richard A. Feely
    • , Pru Foster
    • , Pierre Friedlingstein
    • , Kevin Gurney
    • , Richard A. Houghton
    • , Joanna I. House
    • , Chris Huntingford
    • , Peter E. Levy
    • , Mark R. Lomas
    • , Joseph Majkut
    • , Nicolas Metzl
    • , Jean P. Ometto
    • , Glen P. Peters
    • , I. Colin Prentice
    • , James T. Randerson
    • , Steven W. Running
    • , Jorge L. Sarmiento
    • , Ute Schuster
    • , Stephen Sitch
    • , Taro Takahashi
    • , Nicolas Viovy
    • , Guido R. van der Werf
    •  & F. Ian Woodward
  • Progress Article |

    The rapid increase in anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases necessitates the consideration of mechanisms for capturing and storing carbon dioxide. Recent work suggests that fluid or gaseous carbon dioxide can be injected into the Earth's crust, and locked up as carbonate minerals to achieve near-permanent and secure sequestration.

    • Jürg M. Matter
    •  & Peter B. Kelemen
  • Progress Article |

    Past interglacials can be thought of as a series of natural experiments in which boundary conditions varied considerably. Examination of the palaeoclimate record of the past 800,000 years reveals a large diversity among interglacials in terms of their intensity, duration and internal variability.

    • P. C. Tzedakis
    • , D. Raynaud
    • , J. F. McManus
    • , A. Berger
    • , V. Brovkin
    •  & T. Kiefer
  • Progress Article |

    Many of the world's deltas are densely populated and intensively farmed. An assessment of recent publications indicates that the majority of these deltas have been subject to intense flooding over the past decade, and that this threat will grow as global sea-level rises and as the deltas subside.

    • James P. M. Syvitski
    • , Albert J. Kettner
    • , Irina Overeem
    • , Eric W. H. Hutton
    • , Mark T. Hannon
    • , G. Robert Brakenridge
    • , John Day
    • , Charles Vörösmarty
    • , Yoshiki Saito
    • , Liviu Giosan
    •  & Robert J. Nicholls
  • Progress Article |

    Slab fluids drive mantle melting and return ocean water to the Earth's surface through arc volcanism. New ways of estimating the temperature of slab fluids indicate relatively hot conditions, and hint at a shallow and fast return path for ocean water.

    • Terry Plank
    • , Lauren B. Cooper
    •  & Craig E. Manning
  • Progress Article |

    Science and society are faced with two challenges that are inextricably linked: fossil-fuel energy dependence and rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Coupling of noble gas and carbon chemistry provides an innovative approach to understanding the deep terrestrial carbon cycle.

    • B. Sherwood Lollar
    •  & C. J. Ballentine
  • Progress Article |

    The Earth's mantle constitutes over 80% of the planet's volume and is a key reservoir in global geochemical cycling. An overview of the progress in understanding the generation of mid-ocean-ridge basalt from mantle melt shows that a variety of processes chemically alter mantle signals in the melt generated at depth before its eruption at the sea floor.

    • Ken H. Rubin
    • , John M. Sinton
    • , John Maclennan
    •  & Eric Hellebrand
  • Progress Article |

    Marine dissolved oragnic matter contains roughly as much organic carbon as all living biota on land and in the oceans combined. New techniques in analytical chemistry show that a significant portion of this material has undergone thermal alteration, either on land or in sediments deep below the sea floor.

    • Thorsten Dittmar
    •  & Jiyoung Paeng
  • Progress Article |

    The tropics sustain strong coherent variations in wind and precipitation on intraseasonal timescales of 30–60 days. These variations pace the active and break cycles of the monsoons, exerting a direct control on the livelihoods of large populations dependent on rain-fed agriculture. Emerging evidence suggests that heat fluxes from ocean to atmosphere play a fundamental role in driving these intraseasonal oscillations.

    • Adam H. Sobel
    • , Eric D. Maloney
    • , Gilles Bellon
    •  & Dargan M. Frierson
  • Progress Article |

    European forests are intensively exploited for wood products, yet they are also a potential sink for carbon. European forest inventories combined with timber harvest statistics from sixteen European countries show that between 1950 and 2000 forest biomass increased faster than the amount of timber harvests. Silviculture, which has developed over the past 50 years, can efficiently sequester carbon on timescales of decades, while maintaining forests that meet the demand for wood.

    • P. Ciais
    • , M. J. Schelhaas
    • , S. Zaehle
    • , S. L. Piao
    • , A. Cescatti
    • , J. Liski
    • , S. Luyssaert
    • , G. Le-Maire
    • , E.-D. Schulze
    • , O. Bouriaud
    • , A. Freibauer
    • , R. Valentini
    •  & G. J. Nabuurs
  • Progress Article |

    Rivers may be efficient environments for metabolizing terrestrial organic carbon that was previously thought to be recalcitrant, owing to pockets that provide geophysical opportunities by retaining material for longer, and to the adaptation of microbial communities, which has enabled them to exploit the energy that escapes upstream ecosystems.

    • Tom J. Battin
    • , Louis A. Kaplan
    • , Stuart Findlay
    • , Charles S. Hopkinson
    • , Eugenia Marti
    • , Aaron I. Packman
    • , J. Denis Newbold
    •  & Francesc Sabater
  • Progress Article |

    The tropical belt has been widening over past decades — as estimated from a number of independent lines of evidence — shifting the dry subtropical climate zones polewards around the world.

    • Dian J. Seidel
    • , Qiang Fu
    • , William J. Randel
    •  & Thomas J. Reichler