Earth in the News

The latest reports of natural disasters and scientific discoveries about the Earth.

  • A 'carbon law' offers pathway to halve emissions every decade

    On the eve of this year's Earth hour (March 25), researchers propose a solution in the journal Science for the global economy to rapidly reduce carbon emissions. The authors argue a carbon roadmap, driven by a simple rule of thumb or 'carbon law' of halving emissions every decade, could catalyze disruptive innovation.

  • Climate change and an 'overlooked' nutrient: Silica

    Sugar maples may have far greater silica pumping power than expected, and also may be more profoundly affected by climate change as warmer winters damage their vulnerable roots.

  • Tracing aromatic molecules in the early Universe

    A molecule found in car engine exhaust fumes that is thought to have contributed to the origin of life on Earth has made astronomers heavily underestimate the amount of stars that were forming in the early Universe, a study has found. That molecule is called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon. On Earth it is also found in coal and tar. In space, it is a component of dust.

  • Study of non-rainfall water in Namib Desert reveals unexpected origins

    In a study conducted in one of the world's oldest and most biologically diverse deserts, scientists explore the origins of water other than rainfall and are identifying multiple origins. The study is the first to report that the ocean is not the sole source of life-sustaining fog and dew for numerous plants and animals living in the Namib Desert.

  • Sea ice extent sinks to record lows at both poles

    The Arctic sea ice maximum extent and Antarctic minimum extent are both record lows this year. Combined, sea ice numbers are at their lowest point since satellites began to continuously measure sea ice in 1979.

  • Under the Dead Sea, warnings of dire drought

    Nearly 1,000 feet below the bed of the Dead Sea, scientists have found evidence that during past warm periods, the Mideast has suffered drought on scales never recorded by humans -- a possible warning for current times. Thick layers of crystalline salt show that rainfall plummeted to as little as a fifth of modern levels some 120,000 years ago, and again about 10,000 years ago.

  • Upper part of Earth’s magnetic field reveals details of a dramatic past

    Satellites have been mapping the upper part of the Earth magnetic field by collecting data for three years and found some amazing features about the Earth’s crust. The result is the release of highest resolution map of this field seen from space to date. This ‘lithospheric magnetic field’ is very weak and therefore difficult to detect and map from space. But with the Swarm satellites it has been possible.

  • Sinking of seal beach wetlands tied to ancient quakes

    When geologists went in search for evidence of ancient tsunamis along Southern California’s coastal wetlands, they found something else. Their discoveries have implications for seismic hazard and risk assessment in coastal Southern California.

  • New species discovered: Protist parasites contribute to the stability of rainforest ecosystems

    Tropical rainforests are one of the most species-rich areas on earth. Thousands of animal and plant species live there. The smaller microbial protists, which are not visible to the naked eye, are also native to these forests, where they live in the soils and elsewhere. A team of researchers has examined them more closely by analyzing their DNA. They discovered many unknown species, including many parasites, which may contribute to the stability of rainforest ecosystems.

  • Dead zones may threaten coral reefs worldwide

    Dead zones affect dozens of coral reefs around the world and threaten hundreds more according to a new study. Watching a massive coral reef die-off on the Caribbean coast of Panama, they suspected it was caused by a dead zone -- a low-oxygen area that snuffs out marine life -- rather than by ocean warming or acidification.

  • Mars volcano, Earth's dinosaurs went extinct about the same time

    Arsia Mons produced one new lava flow at its summit every 1 to 3 million years during the final peak of activity, about 50 million years ago. The last volcanic activity there ceased about 50 million years ago -- around the time of Earth's Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction, when large numbers of our planet's plant and animal species (including dinosaurs) went extinct.

  • Last remnant of North American ice sheet on track to vanish

    The last piece of the ice sheet that once blanketed much of North America is doomed to disappear in the next several centuries, says a new study.

  • Unforeseen impacts of the fair trade movement

    Fair trade certified coffee is the kind of phrase that sounds good on a Whole Foods shelf, merging first world affluence with third world resource. For the average consumer, it implies fairness in labor and wealth, the idea that small producers profit directly from what they produce.

  • Warning of shortage of essential minerals for laptops, cell phones, wiring

    Researchers say global resource governance and sharing of geoscience data is needed to address challenges facing future mineral supply. Specifically of concern are a range of technology minerals, which are an essential ingredient in everything from laptops and cell phones to hybrid or electric cars to solar panels and copper wiring for homes.

  • Reconsider the impact of trees on water cycles and climate, scientists say

    Forests and trees play a major role on water cycles and cooler temperatures, contributing to food security and climate change adaptation. In recent decades, the climate change discourse has looked at forests and trees mostly as carbon stocks and carbon sinks, but now scientists are calling for more attention on the relation between trees and water in climate change. A new publication and a symposium try to shed new light on the debate.

  • Children who play outside more likely to protect nature as adults

    Protecting the environment can be as easy as telling your kids to go outdoors and play, according to a new study.

  • Extensive ice cap once covered sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia

    The sub-antarctic island of South Georgia -- famous for its wildlife -- was covered by a massive ice cap during the last ice age, new research indicates.

  • The carbon dioxide loop

    Marine biologists quantify the carbon consumption of bacterioplankton to better understand the ocean carbon cycle.

  • Earth's first example of recycling: its own crust!

    Rock samples from northeastern Canada retain chemical signals that help explain what Earth's crust was like more than 4 billion years ago.

  • From space to the streets: New battery model also makes electric cars more reliable

    Nano satellites weighing just a few kilograms orbit the Earth. Pivotal point of these miniature computers are their solar-powered batteries. Computer scientists have now developed a procedure that allows for better planning of solar battery operations.