Earth in the News

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

  • Study of North Atlantic Ocean reveals decline of leaded petrol emissions

    A new study of lead pollution in the North Atlantic provides strong evidence that leaded petrol emissions have declined over the past few decades. For the first time in around 40 years, scientists have detected lead from natural sources in samples from this ocean. In the intervening period, the proportion of lead in the ocean from humanmade sources, most importantly leaded petrol emissions, had been so high that it was not possible to detect any lead from natural sources.

  • Tracking the amount of sea ice from the Greenland ice sheet

    By analyzing ice cores drilled from deep inside the Greenland ice sheet, researchers have started to calculate how much Arctic sea ice there was in the past.

  • Climate change jigsaw puzzle: Antarctic pieces missing

    A shift in westerly winds, which has led to climate impacts in Australia and the Southern Ocean, is human-induced, new research suggests. To date, limited data on Antarctic climate has meant that it’s been difficult to disentangle changes caused by human activity from natural fluctuations.

  • 92% of the world’s population exposed to unsafe levels of air pollution

    A new WHO air quality model confirms that 92% of the world's population lives in places where air quality levels exceed WHO limits. Some 3 million deaths a year are linked to exposure to outdoor air pollution. Indoor air pollution can be just as deadly. In 2012, an estimated 6.5 million deaths (11.6% of all global deaths) were associated with indoor and outdoor air pollution together.

  • California's almond boom has ramped up water use, consumed wetlands and stressed pollinators

    A new study using aerial imagery across the state of California has found that converting land to grow almonds between 2007 and 2014 has led to a 27% annual increase in irrigation demands -- despite the state's historic drought. The expansion of almonds has also consumed 16,000 acres of wetlands and will likely put additional pressure on already stressed honeybee populations.

  • Cosmic dust demystified

    Besides providing substantive information about the atmospheres of other planets, cosmic dust particles can impact radio communications, climate and even serve as fertilizer for phytoplankton in the oceans. A team of researchers has developed a new experimental Meteoric Ablation Simulator (MASI) that can help answer questions about cosmic dust and how it impacts Earth and everything on it.

  • High-tech future early warning system for hurricanes, tornados and volcanic eruptions

    The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) has been able to detect a gravity wave wafting through space from two colliding black holes billions of years ago. Now a group has built a much smaller ring laser interferometer to explore how it could detect geophysical effects such as earthquake-generated ground rotation and infrasound from convective storms and have demonstrated the technology's potential as an early-warning system for natural disasters.

  • How wetlands and agriculture, not fossil fuels, could be causing a global rise in methane

    Recent rises in levels of methane in our atmosphere is being driven by biological sources, such as swamp gas, cow burps, or rice fields, rather than fossil fuel emissions, new research suggests.

  • Life in ancient oceans enabled by erosion from land

    As scientists continue finding evidence for life in the ocean more than 3 billion years ago, those ancient fossils pose a paradox that raises questions about whether there was more land mass than previously thought.

  • Greenland rising as ice melts

    A new study on the Greenland Ice Sheet provides valuable insight on climate change, using unique research methods to establish new estimates of ice loss for both modern and ancient times, says geologists.

  • Oxygen levels were key to early animal evolution, strongest evidence now shows

    It has long puzzled scientists why, after 3 billion years of nothing more complex than algae, complex animals suddenly started to appear on Earth. Now, a team of researchers has put forward some of the strongest evidence yet to support the hypothesis that high levels of oxygen in the oceans were crucial for the emergence of skeletal animals 550 million years ago.

  • Resonance in Rainbow Bridge

    Utah's iconic Rainbow Bridge hums with natural and human-made vibrations, according to a new study. The study characterizes the different ways the bridge vibrates and what frequencies and energy sources cause the rock structure to resonate. The vibrations are small, according to a geology and geophysics professor, but the study provides a baseline measure of the bridge's structural integrity and shows how human activities can rattle solid rock.

  • Fracking causes earthquakes, but new research finds way to make it safer

    Injecting wastewater deep underground as a byproduct of oil and gas extraction techniques that include fracking causes human-made earthquakes, new research has found. The study, which also showed that the risk can be mitigated, has the potential to transform oil and gas industry practices.

  • New model could point way to microbiome forecasting in the ocean

    A new mathematical model integrates environmental and molecular sequence information to better explain how microbial networks drive nutrient and energy cycling in marine ecosystems.

  • Soil will absorb less atmospheric carbon than expected this century, study finds

    By adding highly accurate radiocarbon dating of soil to standard Earth system models, environmental scientists have learned a dirty little secret: The ground will absorb far less atmospheric carbon dioxide this century than previously thought.

  • Greenland ice is melting seven percent faster than previously thought

    The same hotspot in Earth's mantle that feeds Iceland's active volcanoes has been affecting scientists' calculations of ice loss in the Greenland ice sheet, causing them to underestimate the melting by about 20 gigatons (20 billion metric tons) per year.

  • Scientists triple known types of viruses in world’s oceans

    Researchers report they've tripled the known types of viruses living in waters around the globe, and now have a better idea what role they play in nature. The discovery could influence carbon reduction efforts.

  • Alternative methods to understand the water regime of the temporary rivers

    When there are no data due to a lack of hydrometric station, interviews to neighbors and air photographs of water environment are the effective methods to collect information on the water regime of temporary rivers. 

  • Environmental stress enhances the effects of pollutants

    Each and every organism on Earth is exposed to the influence of various environmental conditions and of other living organisms. These factors can trigger stress and make the living organism more vulnerable to external influences. A team of researchers has now succeeded in using aquatic organisms to demonstrate that the presence of environmental stress multiplies the effects of pollutants on organisms. Furthermore, they have developed a model that makes it possible to use the intensity of the environmental stress as a basis to predict the increased impact of pollutants.

  • Fate of turtles, tortoises affected more by habitat than temperature

    Habitat degradation poses a greater risk to the survival of turtles and tortoises than rising global temperatures, according to new research. More than 60 per cent are listed as vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered, because they are being traded, collected for food and medicine and their habitats are being degraded. Understanding the additional impact of global warming and changes in rainfall patterns on their diversity and distributions is therefore paramount to their conservation.