Journal Highlights

Initiation of Snowball Earth with volcanic sulfur aerosol emissions

Editors’ Highlight—This paper proposes that volcanic activity, specifically the injection of sulfate aerosols into the stratosphere, directly led to the Sturtian glaciation, the first Neoproterozoic global glaciation event. The authors test the plausibility of their hypothesis with three low-order atmospheric models which assess the height to which hot, buoyant sulfur-bearing plumes from fire fountains could reach in the atmosphere; the chemical and microphysical evolution of sulfur in the atmosphere; and the radiative effects of sulfate aerosols once they formed. The idea that volcanic sulfur aerosol emissions can be a mechanism for a rapid increase in planetary albedo and thus trigger a rapid glaciation, or Snowball Earth event, presents a new perspective on Earth’s history and has implications for paleoclimate, exoplanets, and geo-engineering.

A perfect storm of fire and ice may have led to snowball Earth

Blog—What caused the largest glaciation event in Earth’s history, known as ‘snowball Earth’?

Geologists and climate scientists have been searching for the answer for years but the root cause of the phenomenon remains elusive.

Now, Harvard University researchers have a new hypothesis about what caused the runaway glaciation that covered the Earth pole-to-pole in ice…more


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Featured Special Collection

A Census of Atmospheric Variability from Seconds to Decades 

The atmosphere varies naturally on all length scales from millimeters to thousands of kilometers, and on all time scales from seconds to decades and longer.  This special collection of Geophysical Research Letters synthesizes and summarizes that variability through a phenomenological census.  The collection brings together some of the most influential and definitive papers to have been published in this journal in recent years.  The topics covered include turbulence on time scales of seconds and minutes, gravity waves on time scales of hours, weather systems on time scales of days, atmospheric blocking on time scales of weeks, the Madden–Julian Oscillation on time scales of months, the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation and El Niño–Southern Oscillation on time scales of years, and the North Atlantic, Arctic, Antarctic, Pacific Decadal, and Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillations on time scales of decades.  The collection is accompanied by a Commentary article, which provides an authoritative, concise, and accessible point of reference for the most important modes of atmospheric variability.

A Census of Atmospheric Variability from Seconds to Decades