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Earth in the News

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

  • From finding Nemo to minerals: What riches lie in the deep sea?

    As fishing and the harvesting of metals, gas and oil have expanded deeper and deeper into the ocean, scientists are drawing attention to the services provided by the deep sea, the world’s largest environment.

  • Evolution in rainforest flies points to climate change survival

    Scientists believe some tropical species may be able to evolve and adapt to the effects of climate change. The new findings suggests some sensitive rainforest-restricted species may survive climate change and avoid extinction. But only if the change is not too abrupt and dramatically beyond the conditions that a species currently experiences.

  • Lead pollution beat explorers to South Pole, persists today

    Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen became the first man to reach the South Pole in December 1911. More than 100 years later, an international team of scientists has proven that air pollution from industrial activities arrived to the planet's southern pole long before any human. Using data from 16 ice cores, industrial lead contamination was pervasive throughout Antarctica by the late 19th century.

  • Mineral magic? Common mineral capable of making and breaking bonds

    Researchers have demonstrated how a common mineral acts as a catalysts for specific hydrothermal organic reactions -- negating the need for toxic solvents or expensive reagents.

  • Global warming amplifier: Rising water vapor in upper troposphere to intensify climate change

    A new study from scientists at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and colleagues confirms rising levels of water vapor in the upper troposphere -- a key amplifier of global warming -- will intensify climate change impacts over the next decades. The new study is the first to show that increased water vapor concentrations in the atmosphere are a direct result of human activities.

  • Dinosaurs fell victim to perfect storm of events, study shows

    Dinosaurs might have survived the asteroid strike that wiped them out if it had taken place slightly earlier or later in history, scientists say. They found that in the few million years before a 10km-wide asteroid struck what is now Mexico, Earth was experiencing environmental upheaval. This included extensive volcanic activity, changing sea levels and varying temperatures. At this time, the dinosaurs' food chain was weakened by a lack of diversity among the large plant-eating dinosaurs on which others preyed.

  • Europe's habitat and wildlife is vulnerable to climate change

    New research has identified areas of the Earth that are high priorities for conservation in the face of climate change. Europe is particularly vulnerable, as it has the lowest fraction of its land area, only four per cent, of any continent in ‘refugia’ – areas of biological diversity that support many species where natural environmental conditions remain relatively constant during times of great environmental change.

  • Climate change and air pollution will combine to curb food supplies

    Many studies have shown the potential for global climate change to cut food supplies. But these studies have, for the most part, ignored the interactions between increasing temperature and air pollution -- specifically ozone pollution, which is known to damage crops. A new study shows that these interactions can be quite significant, suggesting that policymakers need to take both warming and air pollution into account in addressing food security.

  • Climate Change Increases Risk of Crop Slowdown in Next 20 Years

    The world faces a small but substantially increased risk over the next two decades of a major slowdown in the growth of global corn and wheat yields because of climate change, according to new research. Such a slowdown would occur as global demand for crops rapidly increases.

  • Intensity of hurricanes: New study helps improve predictions of storm intensity

    While predicting the path of hurricanes has gotten better, little has been done to improve predicting a storm's intensity. That is, until now. "The air-water interface -- whether it had significant waves or significant spray -- is a big factor in storm intensity," said one expert involved in a new study. "Hurricanes gain heat energy through the interface and they lose mechanical energy at the interface."

  • Parched West is using up underground water: Study points to grave implications for Western U.S. water supply

    A new study finds more than 75 percent of the water loss in the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin since late 2004 came from underground resources. The extent of groundwater loss may pose a greater threat to the water supply of the western United States than previously thought.

  • How to power California with wind, water and sun

    New research outlines the path to a possible future for California in which renewable energy creates a healthier environment, generates jobs and stabilizes energy prices.

  • Synchronization of North Atlantic, North Pacific preceded abrupt warming, end of ice age

    Scientists have long been concerned that global warming may push Earth's climate system across a 'tipping point,' where rapid melting of ice and further warming may become irreversible -- a hotly debated scenario with an unclear picture of what this point of no return may look like. A new study suggests that combined warming of the North Atlantic and Pacific Oceans thousands of years ago may have provided the tipping point for abrupt warming and rapid melting of the northern ice sheets.

  • How much magma is hiding beneath our feet? Mysteries of Earth's crust pierced

    Molten rock, or magma, has a strong influence on our planet and its inhabitants, causing destructive volcanic eruptions and generating some of the giant mineral deposits. Our understanding of these phenomena is, however, limited by the fact that most magma cools and solidifies several kilometers beneath our feet, only to be exposed at the surface, millions of years later, by erosion.

  • Calcification in changing oceans

    What do mollusks, starfish, and corals have in common? Aside from their shared marine habitat, they are all calcifiers -- organisms that use calcium from their environment to create hard carbonate skeletons and shells for stability and protection.

  • NASA's HS3 mission spotlight: The HIRAD instrument

    The Hurricane Imaging Radiometer, known as HIRAD, will fly aboard one of two unmanned Global Hawk aircraft during NASA's Hurricane Severe Storm Sentinel or HS3 mission from Wallops beginning August 26 through September 29. One of the NASA Global Hawks will cover the storm environment and the other will analyze inner-storm conditions. HIRAD will fly aboard the inner-storm Global Hawk and will be positioned at the bottom, rear section of the aircraft.

  • New water balance calculation for Dead Sea

    The drinking water resources on the eastern, Jordanian side of the Dead Sea could decline more severely as a result of climate change than those on the western, Israeli and Palestinian side. This is the conclusion reached by an international team of researchers that calculated the water flows around the Dead Sea. The natural replenishment rate of groundwater will reduce dramatically in the future if precipitation lowers as predicted.

  • Water, water -- not everywhere: Mapping water trends for African maize

    Trends in the water cycle in 21 African countries have been mapped from between 1979 and 2010. Researchers found that the majority of maize-growing areas experienced increased water availability, although the trends varied by region. The greater availability of water generally resulted from a mixture of increased rainfall and decreased evaporation and transpiration.

  • Global warming 'pause' since 1998 reflects natural fluctuation

    Statistical analysis of average global temperatures between 1998 and 2013 shows that the slowdown in global warming during this period is consistent with natural variations in temperature, according to research. The study concludes that a natural cooling fluctuation during this period largely masked the warming effects of a continued increase in human-made emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

  • Mammals metabolize some pesticides to limit their biomagnification

    The concentrations of many historically used, and now widely banned, pesticides and other toxic chemicals -- called legacy contaminants -- can become magnified in an animal that eats contaminated food. However, a new study has found that Arctic mammals metabolize some currently used pesticides, preventing such 'biomagnification.'