Earth in the News

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

  • Temperature, not predatory pressures, drives plankton abundance

    Plankton blooms in spring are largely driven by temperature-induced increases in cell division, a new study reveals.

  • Exploring vast 'submerged America,' marine scientists discover 500 bubbling methane vents

    Five hundred vents newly discovered off the US West Coast, each bubbling methane from Earth's belly, top a long list of revelations about "submerged America" being celebrated by leading marine explorers. The discoveries double to about 1,000 the number of such vents now known to exist along the continental margins of the USA. This fizzing methane is a powerful greenhouse gas if it escapes into the atmosphere; a clean burning fuel if safely captured.

  • Scientists find link between tropical storms, decline of river deltas

    A change in the patterns of tropical storms is threatening the future of the Mekong River delta in Vietnam, research shows, indicating a similar risk to other deltas around the world.

  • Magnetic oceans and electric Earth

    Oceans might not be thought of as magnetic, but they make a tiny contribution to our planet's protective magnetic shield. Remarkably, ESA's Swarm satellites have not only measured this extremely faint field, but have also led to new discoveries about the electrical nature of inner Earth.

  • Technique could lower cost of making bioplastics, biofuel

    The potential for at least partly replacing oil with cellulose as a renewable source of energy and materials has just improved, report researchers.

  • Drought-tolerant species thrive despite returning rains in the Sahel

    Following the devastating droughts in the 70s and 80s in the Sahel region south of the Sahara desert, vegetation has now recovered. What surprised the researchers is that although it is now raining more and has become greener, it is particularly the more drought resistant species that thrive instead of the tree and shrub vegetation that has long been characteristic of the area. The conclusion is that not only rain but also agriculture and human utilization of trees, bushes and land affect the plants recovering.

  • Caribbean heritage under threat

    Loss of cultural heritage first brings to mind the destruction in the Middle East. But in the Caribbean it is mainly natural processes such as coastal erosion and human interventions driven by economics that are damaging the local natural and cultural heritage, say experts.

  • Vast carbon residue of ocean life

    The oceans hold a vast reservoir -- 700 billion tons -- of carbon, dissolved in seawater as organic matter, often surviving for thousands of years after being produced by ocean life. Yet, little is known about how it is produced, or how it's being impacted by the many changes happening in the ocean.

  • New satellite image database maps the dynamics of human presence on Earth

    Built-up areas on the Earth have increased by 2.5 times since 1975. And yet, today 7.3 billion people live and work in only 7.6% of the global land mass. Nine out of the ten most populated urban centres are in Asia, while five out of the ten largest urban centres are in the United States. These are some of the numbers calculated by a new global database which tracks human presence on Earth.

  • 'Robomussels' used to monitor climate change

    Tiny robots have been helping researchers study how cli­mate change affects bio­di­ver­sity. These “robo­mus­sels” have the shape, size, and color of actual mus­sels, with minia­ture built-??in sen­sors that track tem­per­a­tures inside the mussel beds.

  • Making of a desert: Central Asia over the ages

    The first large-scale map of rainfall declines revealed by signatures in ancient soil could help researchers better understand profound regional and global climate transformation.

  • Earthquake series cause uplift variations at continental margins

    A new mechanism may explain how great earthquakes with magnitudes larger than M7 are linked to coastal uplift in many regions worldwide. This has important implications for the seismic hazard and the tsunami risk along the shores of many countries. The idea is that series of severe earthquakes within a geologically short period of time cause the rising of the land where one tectonic plate slips beneath another slab of the Earth's crust in a process called subduction.

  • Greenland ice is melting 7 percent faster than previously thought

    The same hotspot in Earth's mantle that feeds Iceland's active volcanoes has been playing a trick on the scientists who are trying to measure how much ice is melting on nearby Greenland. According to a new study, the hotspot softened the mantle rock beneath Greenland in a way that ultimately distorted their calculations for ice loss in the Greenland ice sheet. This caused them to underestimate the melting by about 20 gigatons (20 billion metric tons) per year.

  • Wind patterns in lowest layers of supercell storms key to predicting tornadoes

    Wind patterns in the lowest 500 meters of the atmosphere near supercell thunderstorms can help predict whether that storm will generate a tornado, report investigators.

  • Future of Antarctic marine protected areas at risk

    Antarctica's surrounding waters are home to some of the healthiest marine ecosystems on Earth and support thriving populations of krill, seabirds, fish and whales. But efforts to establish a network of effective Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Southern Ocean are being hobbled by political infighting and demands that prioritize fishing interests over conservation by members of the international consortium tasked with conserving the region, scientists say.

  • Biodiversity loss in forests will be pricey

    A new global assessment of forests -- perhaps the largest terrestrial repositories of biodiversity -- suggests that, on average, a 10% loss in biodiversity leads to a 2 to 3% loss in the productivity, including biomass, that forests can offer. Based on these results, the authors estimate the value of biodiversity in maintaining commercial productivity to be 166 to 490 billion (USD), which would be considerably greater than the total cost of effective global conservation.

  • Geologist explores minerals below Earth's surface

    A geology researcher is going deep below Earth's surface to understand how some of the most abundant minerals that comprise Earth's crust change under pressure.

  • Consequences from Antarctica climate change

    New research reveals how a single warming event in Antarctica may be an indication of future ecosystem changes. Stationed in East Antarctica's McMurdo Dry Valleys -- a polar desert that's among the driest places on Earth -- the research team studied the effects of massive flooding caused by the glaciers that melted when air temperatures suddenly warmed to 39 degrees Fahrenheit. Flooding streams eroded, lake ice thinned, lake levels rose, and water reached new places across the barren landscape.

  • Extraterrestrial impact preceded ancient global warming event

    A comet strike may have triggered the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), a rapid warming of Earth caused by an accumulation of atmospheric carbon dioxide 56 million years ago, which offers analogs to global warming today.

  • Team delivers a champion in carbon dioxide conversion

    A research team has developed an innovative concept to convert carbon dioxide into valuable products. The new process, coined “super-dry” methane reforming, intensifies carbon dioxide conversion, report researchers.