Earth in the News

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

  • Likely cause for recent southeast US earthquakes: Underside of the North American Plate peeling off

    The southeastern United States should, by all means, be relatively quiet in terms of seismic activity. It's located in the interior of the North American Plate, far away from plate boundaries where earthquakes usually occur. But the area has seen some notable seismic events -- most recently, the 2011 magnitude-5.8 earthquake near Mineral, Virginia that shook the nation's capital.

  • Elevated bladder cancer risk in New England, arsenic in drinking water

    Drinking water from private wells, particularly dug wells established during the first half of the 20th century, may have contributed to the elevated risk of bladder cancer that has been observed in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont for over 50 years.

  • Hurricanes key to carbon uptake by forests

    New research reveals that the increase in forest photosynthesis and growth made possible by tropical cyclones in the southeastern United States captures hundreds of times more carbon than is released by all vehicles in the US in a given year.

  • Earth may be home to one trillion species

    Earth could contain nearly 1 trillion species, with only one-thousandth of 1 percent now identified, according to a study from biologists. The estimate is based on the intersection of large datasets and universal scaling laws.

  • Hydropeaking of river water levels is disrupting insect survival, river ecosystems

    A group of researchers concluded that 'hydropeaking' of water flows on many rivers in the West has a devastating impact on aquatic insect abundance.

  • Climate-exodus expected in the Middle East and North Africa

    Part of the Middle East and North Africa may become uninhabitable due to climate change.

  • Influence of sea-ice loss on Arctic warming is shaped by temperatures in the Pacific Ocean

    The Arctic amplification phenomenon refers to the faster rate of warming in the Arctic compared to places farther south. Arctic amplification has been linked to a spike in the number of persistent cold spells experienced in recent years over Europe and North America.

  • A cleansing rain falls; a soil-filled mist arises

    Scientists have found that rain triggers the release of a mist of particles from wet soils into the air, a finding with consequences for how scientists model our planet's climate and future. The evidence comes in the form of tiny glassy spheres, less than one-hundredth the width of a human hair, discovered in the Great Plains.

  • Tracking climate change? Use the daily highs

    Scientists using long-term surface temperature data to track climate change caused by greenhouse gases would be best served using only daily high temperature readings without the nighttime lows, according to new research.

  • Antarctic bryozoans give hints of environmental changes in oceans

    Antarctic regions are natural laboratories to study biodiversity and the impact of climate change. In Antarctica, some marine ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to the ocean acidification due to an excess of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. Studying the Antarctic bryozoans, marine invertebrates that live in colonies and make mineralized skeletons, can create new views to understand the effects of global ocean acidification.

  • Forming fogbows: Study finds limit on evaporation to ice sheets, but that may change

    Although the coastal regions of the Greenland Ice Sheet are experiencing rapid melting, a significant portion of the interior of that ice sheet has remained stable -- but a new study suggests that stability may not continue. Researchers found that very little of the snow and ice on the vast interior of the ice sheet is lost to the atmosphere through evaporation because of a strong thermal 'lid' that essentially traps the moisture and returns it to the surface where it refreezes.

  • What lies beneath West Antarctica?

    New research provides the first look into the biogeochemistry, geophysics and geology of Subglacial Lake Whillans, which lies 800 meters (2,600 feet) beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

  • Origin of Earth's oldest crystals

    New research suggests that the very oldest pieces of rock on Earth -- zircon crystals -- are likely to have formed in the craters left by violent asteroid impacts that peppered our nascent planet, rather than via plate tectonics as was previously believed.

  • Geochemical detectives use lab mimicry to look back in time

    New work contains some unexpected findings about iron chemistry under high-pressure conditions, such as those likely found in the Earth's core, where iron predominates and creates our planet's life-shielding magnetic field. The results could shed light on Earth's early days when the core was formed through a process called differentiation -- when the denser materials, like iron, sunk inward toward the center, creating the layered composition the planet has today.

  • Flightless survivors: Incredible invertebrate diversity in Los Angeles metropolitan area

    Flight is one of nature's greatest breakthroughs. It enables escape, dispersion, and exploration. Lacking flight keeps you grounded -- sometimes for a long time even from evolution's perspective. The Madrona Marsh Preserve is a small nature preserve in one of the world's largest metropolitan areas, which has withstood decades of farming, oil exploration, and development pressures. Surprisingly, a treasure of flightless animals survived.

  • Ice loss accelerating in Greenland's coastal glaciers

    Surface meltwater draining through and underneath Greenland's tidewater glaciers is accelerating their loss of ice mass, according to a new study that sheds light on the relationship between meltwater and subglacial discharge.

  • Amazon rainforest responds quickly to extreme climate events

    The carbon balance in the Amazon can change quickly in response to heat and drought conditions.

  • Sea-level rise summit coincides with flooding risks in south Florida due to the moon, high tides and inclement weather

    Just as parts of South Florida are bracing for potential risks of flooding in low-lying areas due to the close proximity of the moon, high tides, sea-level rise and inclement weather, researchers are bringing together professionals from the private and public sectors to help identify solutions and develop adaptation pathways.

  • Protecting diversity on coral reefs: DNA may hold the key

    Scientists have discovered that large areas of intact coral reef with extensive live coral cover, not disturbed by humans or climate change, harbor the greatest amount of genetic diversity. With this work, the researchers uncovered a link between species diversity of an ecosystem and the genetic diversity encoded within the DNA of those species.

  • Deep-sea biodiversity impacted by climate change's triple threat

    A new study found that vulnerability of deep-sea biodiversity to climate change's triple threat -- rising water temperatures, and decreased oxygen, and pH levels -- is not uniform across the world's oceans.