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Earth in the News

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

  • Deforestation is messing with our weather, and our food

    Insight into how large-scale deforestation could impact global food production by triggering changes in local climate has been gained by new research. In the study, researchers from the United States and China zero in on albedo (the amount of the sun's radiation reflected from Earth's surface) and evapotranspiration (the transport of water into the atmosphere from soil, vegetation, and other surfaces) as the primary drivers of changes in local temperature.

  • Life for microbial specialists in the poisonous breath of sleeping volcanoes

    Researchers have analyze the microbial community in volcanically active soils. In a mofette close to the Czech river Plesná in north-western Bohemia, the team found numerous organisms that were thriving in an environment which seems to be so hostile to life.

  • Oxygen-depleted toxic oceans had key role in mass extinction over 200 million years ago

    Changes in the biochemical balance of the ocean were a crucial factor in the end-Triassic mass extinction, during which half of all plant, animal and marine life on Earth perished, according to new research.

  • Worm lizards dispersed by 'rafting' over oceans, not continental drift

    Tiny, burrowing reptiles known as worm lizards became widespread long after the breakup of the continents, leading scientists to conclude that they must have dispersed by rafting across oceans soon after the extinction of the dinosaurs, rather than by continental drift as previously thought.

  • Scientists discover elusive secret of how continents formed

    Geoscientists have revealed information about how continents were generated on Earth more than 2.5 billion years ago -- and how those processes have continued within the last 70 million years to profoundly affect the planet's life and climate.

  • 200th anniversary of Tambora eruption a reminder of volcanic perils

    The volcanologist Stephen Self, an expert on super-eruptions, was the first modern-day scientist to visit Tambora in Indonesia, the site of the largest volcanic eruption in 1,000 years. On the 200th anniversary of its eruption in 1815, Self and others warn of the ever-present dangers of volcanoes like Tambora. Globally dispersed clouds of sulfate aerosols could lead to cooling, crop failures and famine, as happened in the 'year without a summer' of 1816.

  • Travelling pollution: East Asian human activities affect air quality in remote tropical forests

    Researchers have detected a human fingerprint deep in the Borneo rainforest in Southeast Asia. Cold winds blowing from the north carry industrial pollutants from East Asia to the equator, with implications for air quality in the region. Once there, the pollutants can travel higher into the atmosphere and impact the ozone layer.

  • New source of methane for gas hydrates in Arctic discovered

    Researchers have identified a new source of methane for gas hydrates -- ice-like substances found in sediment that trap methane within the crystal structure of frozen water -- in the Arctic Ocean. The findings, point to a previously undiscovered, stable reservoir for methane that is 'locked' away from the atmosphere, where it could impact global climate change.

  • Climate-related disruptions of marine ecosystems: Decades to destroy, millennia to recover

    A new study reports that marine ecosystems can take thousands, rather than hundreds, of years to recover from climate-related upheavals. The study's authors analyzed thousands of invertebrate fossils to show that ecosystem recovery from climate change and seawater deoxygenation might take place on a millennial scale.

  • Mist-collecting plants may ‘bioinspire’ technology to help alleviate global water shortages

    By studying the morphology and physiology of plants with tiny conical "hairs" or microfibers on the surface of their leaves, such as tomatoes, balsam pears and the flowers Berkheya purpea and Lychnis sieboldii, a team of researchers uncovered water collection-and-release secrets that may, in turn, one day soon "bioinspire" a technology to pull fresh water from the air to help alleviate global water shortages.

  • Glimpses of the future: Drought damage leads to widespread forest death

    The 2000-2003 drought in the American southwest triggered a widespread die-off of forests around the region. A team of scientists developed a new modeling tool to explain how and where trembling aspen forests died as a result of this drought, based on damage to the individual trees' ability to transport water. Their results suggest that more widespread die-offs of aspen forests triggered by climate change are likely by the 2050s.

  • Direct evidence for a positive feedback in climate change: Global warming itself will likely accelerate warming

    A new study has confirmed the existence of a positive feedback operating in climate change whereby warming itself may amplify a rise in greenhouse gases resulting in additional warming.

  • Good luck and the Chinese reverse global forest loss

    Analysis of 20 years of satellite data has revealed the total amount of vegetation globally has increased by almost 4 billion tons of carbon since 2003. This is despite ongoing large-scale deforestation in the tropics.

  • Diverse sources of methane in shallow Arctic lakes discovered

    New research into the changing ecology of thousands of shallow lakes on the North Slope of Alaska suggests that in scenarios of increasing global temperatures, methane-generating microbes, found in thawing lake sediments, may ramp up production of the potent greenhouse gas -- which has a global warming potential 25 times greater than carbon dioxide.

  • Exercise can outweigh harmful effects of air pollution

    The beneficial effects of exercise are more important for our health than the negative effects of air pollution, in relation to the risk of premature mortality, new research shows. In other words, benefits of exercise outweigh the harmful effects of air pollution.

  • Volcanic eruptions found to durably impact climate through alterations to North Atlantic Ocean circulation

    Particles emitted during major volcanic eruptions cool the atmosphere due to a 'parasol' effect that reflects sunlight. The direct impact of these particles in the atmosphere is fairly short, lasting two to three years. However, they alter for more than 20 years the North Atlantic Ocean circulation, which connects surface and deep currents and influences the climate in Europe.

  • Climate change does not cause extreme winters, experts say

    Cold snaps like the ones that hit the eastern United States in the past winters are not a consequence of climate change. Scientists have now shown that global warming actually tends to reduce temperature variability.

  • Spring plankton bloom hitches ride to sea's depths on ocean eddies

    Just as crocus and daffodil blossoms signal the start of a warmer season on land, a similar 'greening' event --a massive bloom of microscopic plants, or phytoplankton -- unfolds each spring in the North Atlantic Ocean from Bermuda to the Arctic.

  • Antarctic ice shelves rapidly thinning

    A new study has revealed that the thickness of Antarctica's floating ice shelves has recently decreased by as much as 18 percent in certain areas over nearly two decades, providing new insights on how the Antarctic ice sheet is responding to climate change.

  • A mile deep, ocean fish facing health impacts from human pollution

    Deep-water marine fish living on the continental slopes at depths from 2,000 feet to one mile have liver pathologies, tumors and other health problems that may be linked to human-caused pollution, one of the first studies of its type has found. Fish have been found with a blend of male and female sex organs including. The findings appear to reflect general ocean conditions.