Earth in the News

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

  • Researchers pinpoint abrupt onset of modern day Indian Ocean monsoon system

    A new study by an international team of scientists reveals the exact timing of the onset of the modern monsoon pattern in the Maldives 12.9 million years ago, and its connection to past climate changes and coral reefs in the region. The analysis of sediment cores provides direct physical evidence of the environmental conditions that sparked the monsoon conditions that exist today around the low-lying island nation and the Indian subcontinent.

  • Abundant and diverse ecosystem found in area targeted for deep-sea mining

    Scientists discovered impressive abundance and diversity among the creatures living on the seafloor in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone -- an area in the equatorial Pacific Ocean being targeted for deep-sea mining. The study found that more than half of the species they collected were new to science, reiterating how little is known about life on the seafloor in this region.

  • Plastic 'continents': Is there a way out?

    Plastic "continents" are not static. Based on the oceanic circulation modelling work conducted in the Pacific, researchers have recently shown that there are exit currents for these areas of the sea where these piles of waste build up. This means that they are not caught in a never-ending whirlpool in the middle of the ocean, as had been previously thought. Although inappropriate given the actual estimated concentrations, this term highlights the awareness of the impact of human activity on the oceans.

  • Earth's mantle appears to have a driving role in plate tectonics

    Deep down below us is a tug of war moving at less than the speed of growing fingernails. Keeping your balance is not a concern, but how the movement happens has been debated among geologists. New clues found off Washington coast challenge a long-held notion of what moves what deep under the sea.

  • Virtual rocks: A new spin on virtual geology

    Over the past decade, the number of virtual field trips created to simulate in-person field excursions has grown, but one aspect of physical fieldwork is not commonly replicated: Virtual explorers do not often return to their desks with collections of virtual rocks. Three-dimensional virtual samples can enhance just about any geoscience activity, from online college courses to remote research collaboration.

  • Globally protected areas benefit broad range of species, largest ever study reveals

    The largest ever analysis of globally protected areas reveals for the first time that they do benefit a broad range of species. By analysing biodiversity samples taken from 1,939 sites inside and 4,592 sites outside 359 protected areas, scientists have discovered the protected area samples contain 15 percent more individuals and 11 percent more species compared to samples from unprotected sites.

  • Forests, species on four continents threatened by palm oil expansion

    As palm oil production expands from Southeast Asia into the Americas and Africa, vulnerable tropical forests and species on four continents face increased risk of loss, a new study finds. The largest areas of vulnerable forest are in Africa and South America. But because forests in all 20 countries studied contain high concentrations of different mammal and bird species at risk of extinction, conservation efforts need to incorporate localized solutions tailored to each region.

  • Scientists simulated a nuclear explosion of an asteroid

    Scientists are developing measures to protect the Earth from potentially dangerous celestial bodies. With the help of supercomputer SKIF Cyberia, the scientists simulated the nuclear explosion of an asteroid 200 meters in diameter in such a way that its irradiated fragments do not fall to the Earth.

  • Transformations to granular zircon revealed: Meteor Crater, Arizona

    Having been reported in lunar samples returned by Apollo astronauts, meteorites, impact glass, and at a number of meteorite craters on Earth, granular zircon is the most unusual and enigmatic type of zircon known. The mechanisms and transformations that form this distinctive granular zircon have, until now, remained speculative because it has not been produced in shock experiments.

  • Cleaner air may be driving water quality in Chesapeake Bay

    A new study suggests that improvements in air quality over the Potomac watershed, including the Washington, D.C., metro area, may be responsible for recent progress on water quality in the Chesapeake Bay. Scientists have linked improving water quality in streams and rivers of the Upper Potomac River Basin to reductions in nitrogen pollution onto the land and streams due to enforcement of the Clean Air Act.

  • Rainforest greener during 'dry' season

    At 2.7 million square miles, the Amazon Jungle is the world's largest rainforest. Researchers now believe the rainforest has different levels of photosynthesis, with more during the dry season. They report that more extreme droughts due to climate change could negatively affect the rainforest's ability to sequester carbon through photosynthesis.

  • Decade-long cooling cycle: Middle atmosphere in sync with ocean

    In the late 20th century scientists observed a cooling at the transition between the troposphere and stratosphere at an altitude of about 15 kilometers. Climate scientists now show that the cooling could also be part of a natural decadal variation which is controlled by the water temperature of the Pacific.

  • Silicon-air battery achieves running time of over 1,000 hours for the first time

    Silicon-air batteries are viewed as a promising and cost-effective alternative to current energy storage technology. However, they have thus far only achieved relatively short running times. Researchers have now discovered why.

  • Marine carbon sinking rates confirm importance of polar oceans

    Polar oceans pump organic carbon down to the deep sea about five times as efficiently as subtropical waters, because they can support larger, heavier organisms.

  • Before animals, evolution waited eons to inhale

    Time to smash the beaker when thinking about oxygen concentrations in water, at the time when animal life first evolved. Oceans stacked oxygen here and depleted it there, as a new novel model demonstrates. It may well toss a wrench into the way we have dated the evolution of the earliest animals.

  • Historical records miss a fifth of global warming: NASA

    A new NASA-led study finds that almost one-fifth of the global warming that has occurred in the past 150 years has been missed by historical records due to quirks in how global temperatures were recorded. The study explains why projections of future climate based solely on historical records estimate lower rates of warming than predictions from climate models.

  • Mines hydrology research provides 'missing link' in water modeling

    New research tackles the issue of global freshwater supply by taking a unique approach in quantifying the water that plants release into the atmosphere through a process called transpiration in conjunction with evaporation of water from the soil.

  • Tide-triggered tremors give clues for earthquake prediction

    The triggering of small, deep earthquakes along California's San Andreas Fault reveals depth-dependent frictional behavior that may provide insight into patterns signaling when a major quake could be on the horizon, according to a new article.

  • We're lucky climate change didn't happen sooner

    There is some consolation in how the fossil fuel-induced climatic changes we increasingly experience through droughts and storm surges are playing out. It could have happened sooner, and therefore already have been much worse.

  • Super-eruptions may give a year's warning before they blow

    A microscopic analysis of quartz crystals from an ancient California super-eruption indicates that the process of decompression immediately preceding the eruption began about a year before the eruption itself.