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Scientists study ancient global warming

Balboa, Panama -- An abrupt global warming episode 56 million years ago led to an explosion of plant diversity in northern South America, Panamanian researchers say.

A 9-degree Fahrenheit spike in temperatures during 10,000 years -- a blink of an eye on a geological scale -- had researchers expecting to find evidence of a mass die-off of many tropical plant species, reported.

"We were expecting to find rapid extinction, a total change in the forest," says study leader Carlos Jaramillo, a biologist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Balboa, Panama. "What we found was just the opposite -- a very fast addition of many new species, and a huge spike in the diversity of tropical plants."

Climate change could reverse Atlantic flow

Barcelona -- Global warming could reverse the flow of deep waters in the Atlantic Ocean, just as climate change did 20,000 years ago, Spanish researchers say.

Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona scientists say such a reversal is expected in the course of climate warming over the next 100 years, reported Thursday.

Atlantic Ocean circulation is an important part of the climate system as warm currents like the Gulf Stream transport energy from the tropics to the subpolar North Atlantic and influence regional weather and climate patterns, the researchers say.

Majority of Americans unaware of climate change issues--study

In a study released by Yale University titled 'Americans Knowledge of Climate Change,' majority of Americans are unaware of how grave climate change and global warming issues are.

Global warming affects tropical life more

Seattle -- Global warming is greatest in the Northern Hemisphere but its impact on life could be much greater in the tropics, a U.S. study says.

Even with smaller increases in temperature in the world's tropical zones, those regions could see greater impacts on life, ranging from shifting geographic ranges to species extinction, says Michael Dillon, an assistant professor of zoology and physiology at the University of Wyoming.

A study focused on ectothermic, or cold-blooded, organisms, those whose body temperature approximates the temperature of their surroundings.

Calif. voters split on greenhouse gas law

Los Angeles -- Most Californians say global warming is a serious issue but are split on an upcoming ballot measure about the state's pioneering climate law, a poll indicates.

California's sweeping global warming law requires greenhouse gas emissions by power plants, factories and vehicles be slashed to 1990 levels by the end of the decade, but Proposition 23 on the November ballot would suspend the 2006 law until the state's unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent for an entire year, USA Today reported.

The state's unemployment is currently more than 12 percent, and California rarely has a yearlong level below 5.5 percent, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Global warming may end 'polar' storms

Reading, England -- Climate change, expected to increase extreme weather events around the world, will make one particular kind of event rarer, U.K. researchers say.

Scientists at the University of Reading say climate simulations show severe North Atlantic storms known as "polar lows" and resembling arctic hurricanes may decrease by as much as 50 percent by the end of this century, a report in the journal Nature says.

Polar lows are small-scale but severe winter storms that threaten offshore human activities in the North Atlantic region.

Reading researchers Matthias Zahn and Hans von Storch studied the formation of polar lows in a series of regional climate simulations corresponding to different possible future climates.

Women more likely to believe in climate change than men--study

Challenging the age old belief that men understand science better, a new study has revealed that women not only have a good understanding of science but are also more likely than men to believe in climate change science.

Women, men differ on climate attitudes

East Lansing, Mich. -- Women are more likely to believe scientific consensus on global warming than men are, a U.S. study says.

The findings challenge common perceptions that men are more scientifically literate, said Michigan State University sociologist Aaron M. McCright.

The study is one of the first to focus on how the genders think about climate change, a university release said Tuesday.

The findings also reinforce past studies that suggest women lack confidence in their science comprehension.

"Here is yet another study finding that women underestimate their scientific knowledge -- a troubling pattern that inhibits many young women from pursuing scientific careers," McCright said.

Study: Irrigation affecting global warming

New York -- Expanding irrigation is helping feed the world's billions of people and may even mask global warming, but the future could bring problems, scientists say.

Columbia University researchers say some major groundwater aquifers, a source of irrigation water, will dry up in the future hitting people with the double blow of food shortages and higher temperatures, an article in the journal Geophysical Research says.

"Irrigation can have a significant cooling effect on regional temperatures, where people live," Michael Puma, a university hydrologist, says. "An important question for the future is what happens to the climate if the water goes dry and the cooling disappears? How much warming is being hidden by irrigation?"

Receding ice could unlock arctic trove

Helsinki, Finland -- Receding arctic ice from global warming may open new avenues for tourism and trade and could reveal vast new natural resource reserves, researchers say.

The northern ice cover is becoming smaller and thinner, and scientists predict the Arctic Ocean could lose its icecap completely during summertime by the end of the century at the latest, and possibly as early as the 2030s, Finland's Helsingen Sonomat reported.

Twenty years from now it may be possible to travel to the North Pole by ship, they say. Russia has already organized luxury cruises to the North Pole in its nuclear-powered icebreakers, but the next generation may be able to reach the top of the world in their pleasure boats, they say.