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Earth in the News
The latest reports of natural disasters and scientific discoveries about the Earth.
An international team of researchers has identified the genetic mutations which allowed microalgae (phytoplankton) from the Southern Ocean to adapt to extreme and highly variable climates -- a step towards understanding how polar organisms are impacted by climate change.
In the Antarctic Ocean, large populations of the diatom Fragillariopsis cylindrus dominate the phytoplankton communities. To learn more about how F. cylindrus adapted to its extremely cold environment, a team of researchers conducted a comparative genomic analysis involving three diatoms. The results provided insights into the genome structure and evolution of F. cylindrus, as well as this diatom's role in the Southern Ocean.
SMAP's first year of observational data has now been analyzed and is providing some significant surprises that will help in the modeling of climate, forecasting of weather, and monitoring of agriculture around the world.
Tiny microbes play a big role in cycling carbon and other key elements through our air, water, soil and sediment. Researchers who study these processes have discovered that these microbial communities are significantly affected by the types of carbon “food” sources available. Their findings reveal that the type of carbon source affects not only the composition and activity of natural microbial communities, but also in turn the types of mineral products that form in their environment.
Even though carbon is one of the most-abundant elements on Earth, it is actually very difficult to determine how much of it exists below the surface in Earth's interior. Analysis of crystals containing completely enclosed mantle magma with its original carbon content preserved has doubled the world's known finds of mantle carbon.
Climate scientists now reconstructed how tiny droplets of sulfuric acid formed high up in the air after the well-known impact of a large asteroid and blocking the sunlight for several years, had a profound influence on life on Earth.
Forests are potent carbon sinks, but also the oceans' seagrasses can store enormous amounts of carbon. A little bay in Denmark stores a record amount of carbon. Here is the secret.
Copper is an essential element of our society with main uses in the field of electricity and electronics. About 70% of the copper comes from deposits formed several million years ago during events of magma degassing within Earth's crust just above subduction zones. Despite similar ore forming processes, the size of these deposits can vary orders of magnitude from one place to another, the main reason of which has remained unclear. A new study suggests that the answer may come from the volume of magma emplaced in the crust and proposes an innovative method to better explore these deposits.
Temperatures across the northeastern United States will increase much faster than the global average, results of a new study suggest, so that the 2-degrees Celsius warming target adopted in the recent Paris Agreement on climate change will be reached about 20 years earlier for this part of the U.S. compared to the world as a whole.
A team of seismologists analyzing the data from 671 earthquakes that occurred between 30 and 280 miles beneath the Earth's surface in the Pacific Plate as it descended into the Tonga Trench were surprised to find a zone of intense earthquake activity in the downgoing slab. The pattern of the activity along the slab provided strong evidence that the earthquakes are sparked by the release of water at depth.
A vast peatland in the Congo Basin has been mapped for the first time, revealing it to be the largest in the tropics. The new study found that the Cuvette Centrale peatlands in the central Congo Basin, which were unknown to exist five years ago, cover 145,500 square kilometres -- an area larger than England. They lock in 30 billion tonnes of carbon making the region one of the most carbon-rich ecosystems on Earth.
For centuries drought has come and gone across northern sub-Saharan Africa. In recent years, water shortages have been most severe in the Sahel -- a band of semi-arid land situated just south of the Sahara Desert and stretching coast-to-coast across the continent, from Senegal and Mauritania in the west to Sudan and Eritrea in the east.
Ice core records from the two poles show that during the last ice age, sharp spikes in Arctic temperatures shifted the position of winds around Antarctica.
Researchers have proposed in-orbit reference datasets for calibrating weather satellites. A recent presentation demonstrated that using these references reduced errors in microwave and infrared weather satellites to fractions of a degree Celsius.
Even if there comes a day when the world completely stops emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, coastal regions and island nations will continue to experience rising sea levels for centuries afterward, according to a new study.
Computing science researchers are using automated geotagging models to put a place to online data and documents.
Ocean acidification and the extent to which marine species are able to deal with low pH levels in the Earth's seas, could have a significant influence on shifting the distribution of marine animals in response to climate warming.
The frequency of large-scale tornado outbreaks is increasing in the United States, particularly when it comes to the most extreme events, according to new research.
Foresters and researchers are using sound to look inside living trees. A new study presents methods for use of sonic tomography, which measures wood decay by sending sound waves through tree trunks. The new study describes optimum placement of the sensors to avoid aberrant tomography results for the non-model tree shapes that populate the tropics and details how to analyze the tomograms to quantify areas of decayed and damaged wood.
Scientists have deployed a high-tech mooring beneath the seasonally ice-covered waters around Antarctica to better understand ocean acidification in polar regions.