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Earth in the News

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

  • Magnetic substorms may sometimes be driven by different process than generally thought

    Magnetic substorms, the disruptions in geomagnetic activity that cause brightening of aurora, may sometimes be driven by a different process than generally thought, a new study shows.

  • Whose to blame for ocean trash? Giant garbage patches help redefine ocean boundaries

    Researchers have created a new model that could help determine what area of the world is to blame for each ocean garbage patch of floating debris – a difficult task for a system as complex and massive as the ocean.

  • Scientists obtain new data on the weather 10,000 years ago from sediments at the bottom of a lake in Sierra Nevada

    During the early phase of the Holocene (10.000 – 6.000 years ago) the climate in the Iberian Peninsula was rather more humid than it currently is, according to new research.

  • Antarctic sea level rising faster than global rate

    A new study of satellite data from the last 19 years reveals that fresh water from melting glaciers has caused the sea level around the coast of Antarctica to rise by 2cm more than the global average of 6cm. Researchers detected the rapid rise in sea-level by studying satellite scans of a region that spans more than a million square kilometers. The melting of the Antarctic ice sheet and the thinning of floating ice shelves has contributed an excess of around 350 gigatonnes of freshwater to the surrounding ocean.

  • Hydrogen powers important nitrogen-transforming bacteria

    Nitrite-oxidizing bacteria can use hydrogen as an alternative source of energy, an international team of researchers has found. The oxidation of hydrogen with oxygen enables their growth independent of nitrite and a lifestyle outside the nitrogen cycle.

  • Not all phytoplankton in the ocean need to take their vitamins

    Some species of marine phytoplankton, such as the prolific bloomer Emiliania huxleyi, which can grow so big it can be seen from space, can grow without consuming vitamin B1 (thiamine), researchers have discovered. Until now, many marine microbes with cells that have a nucleus -- eukaryotes -- were thought to depend on other organisms to produce thiamine. If this were the case, B1 would be a major factor in controlling the growth of algae such as E. huxleyi.

  • Marine protected areas inadequate for protecting fish and ocean ecology, study finds

    A new study reports that an expansion of marine protected areas is needed to protect fish species that perform key ecological functions. According to investigators, previous efforts at protecting fish have focused on saving the largest numbers of species, often at the expense of those species that provide key and difficult-to-replace ecological functions.

  • Global warming pioneer calls for carbon dioxide to be taken from atmosphere and stored underground

    Wally Broeker, the first person to alert the world to global warming, has called for atmospheric carbon dioxide to be captured and stored underground.

  • Study shows where on the planet new roads should and should not go

    Researchers have created a ‘large-scale zoning plan’ that aims to limit the environmental costs of road expansion while maximizing its benefits for human development.

  • Charting the global invasion of crop pests

    Many of the world's most important crop-producing countries will be fully saturated with pests by the middle of the century if current trends continue, according to a new study. More than one-in-ten pest types can already be found in around half the countries that grow their host crops. If this spread advances at its current rate, scientists fear that a significant proportion of global crop-producing countries will be overwhelmed by pests within the next 30 years.

  • Nanodiamonds are forever: Did comet collision leave layer of nanodiamonds across Earth?

    A comet collision with Earth caused abrupt environmental stress and degradation that contributed to the extinction of most large animal species then inhabiting the Americas, a group of scientists suggests. The catastrophic impact and the subsequent climate change also led to the disappearance of the prehistoric Clovis culture, and to human population decline. Now focus has turned to the character and distribution of nanodiamonds, one type of material produced during such an extraterrestrial collision. The researchers found an abundance of these tiny diamonds distributed over 50 million square kilometers across the Northern Hemisphere.

  • Southwest U.S. may face 'megadrought' this century

    Because of global warming, scientists say, the chances of the southwestern United States experiencing a decade long drought is at least 50 percent, and the chances of a “megadrought” -- one that lasts over 30 years -- ranges from 20 to 50 percent over the next century.

  • Pacific plate shrinking as it cools

    The Pacific tectonic plate is not as rigid as scientists believe, according to new calculations. Scientists have determined that cooling of the lithosphere -- the outermost layer of Earth -- makes some sections of the Pacific plate contract horizontally at faster rates than others and cause the plate to deform.

  • Composition of Earth's mantle revisited

    The makeup of Earth's lower mantle, which makes up the largest part of the Earth by volume, is significantly different than previously thought, research suggests. This should shed light on unexplained seismic phenomena.

  • Existing power plants will spew 300 billion more tons of carbon dioxide during use

    Existing power plants around the world will pump out more than 300 billion tons of carbon dioxide over their expected lifetimes, significantly adding to atmospheric levels of the climate-warming gas, according to scientists.

  • Natural methane seepage on U.S. Atlantic ocean margin widespread

    Natural methane leakage from the seafloor is far more widespread on the U.S. Atlantic margin than previously thought, according to a study by researchers from Mississippi State University, the U.S. Geological Survey, and other institutions.

  • 'Just right' plant growth may make river deltas resilient

    Geologists suggest that an intermediate amount of vegetation -- not too little and not too much -- is most effective at stabilizing freshwater river deltas. Vegetation on marsh surfaces in river deltas can slow the flow of water and cause more sediment to be deposited, helping prevent sea-level rise from drowning sensitive marshlands. But the study finds that, if the vegetation is too tall or dense, it diverts water into the river channel, resulting in less sediment being deposited on the marsh.

  • NASA scientists watching, studying Arctic changes this summer

    As we near the final month of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, NASA scientists are watching the annual seasonal melting of the Arctic sea ice cover. The floating, frozen cap that stretches across the Arctic Ocean shrinks throughout summer until beginning to regrow, typically around mid-September.

  • Nanoparticle research could enhance oil recovery, tracing of fracking fluid

    Researchers are examining how nanoparticles move underground, knowledge that could eventually help improve recovery in oil fields and discover where hydraulic fracking chemicals travel.

  • Sunlight, not microbes, key to carbon dioxide in Arctic

    The vast reservoir of carbon stored in Arctic permafrost is gradually being converted to carbon dioxide after entering the freshwater system in a process thought to be controlled largely by microbial activity. However, researchers say that sunlight and not bacteria is the key to triggering the production of CO2 from material released by Arctic soils.