Earth in the News

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

  • Corals can survive in acidified ocean conditions, but have lower density skeletons

    Coral reefs face many challenges to their survival, including the global acidification of seawater as a result of rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. A new study shows that at least three Caribbean coral species can survive and grow under conditions of ocean acidification more severe than those expected to occur during this century, although the density of their skeletons was lower than normal.

  • Conceptual model can explain how thunderstorm clouds bunch together

    Understanding how the weather and climate change is one of the most important challenges in science today. A new theoretical study presents a new mechanism for the self-aggregation of storm clouds, a phenomenon, by which storm clouds bunch together in dense clusters. The researcher used methods from complexity science, and applied them to formerly established research in meteorology on the behavior of thunderstorm clouds.

  • Tropical soil disturbance could be hidden source of CO2

    Researchers working in the Democratic Republic of the Congo found a link between the churning of deep soils during deforestation and the release of carbon dioxide through streams and rivers.

  • Does limited underground water storage make plants less susceptible to drought?

    By tracking water flow through different environments in California, researchers have discovered a secret to the surprising resilience of Mediterranean plant communities during drought years. These plants do well during droughts because they are adapted to living with limited underground water storage even in very wet years. Rock moisture, or lack of it, is the key, and may help predict the fate of other California plant communities in the face of climate change.

  • New evidence on the reliability of climate modeling

    For decades, scientists studying a key climate phenomenon have been grappling with contradictory data that have threated to undermine confidence in the reliability of climate models overall. A new study settles that debate with regard to the Hadley cell, a tropical atmospheric circulation widely studied by climate scientists because it controls precipitation in the subtropics and also creates a region called the intertropical convergence zone, producing a band of major, highly-precipitative storms.

  • Scientists hit pay dirt with new microbial research technique

    Long ago, during the European Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci wrote that we humans 'know more about the movement of celestial bodies than about the soil underfoot.' Five hundred years and innumerable technological and scientific advances later, his sentiment still holds true. But that could soon change. A new study details how an improved method for studying microbes in the soil will help scientists understand both fine-grained details and large-scale cycles of the environment.

  • Damage to the ozone layer and climate change forming feedback loop

    Increased solar radiation penetrating through the damaged ozone layer is interacting with the changing climate, and the consequences are rippling through the Earth's natural systems, effecting everything from weather to the health and abundance of sea mammals like seals and penguins.

  • Scientists map huge undersea fresh-water aquifer off U.S. Northeast

    In a new survey of the sub-seafloor off the U.S. Northeast coast, scientists have made a surprising discovery: a gigantic aquifer of relatively fresh water trapped in porous sediments lying below the salty ocean. It appears to be the largest such formation yet found in the world.

  • Northern lights' 'social networking' reveals true scale of magnetic storms

    Magnetic disturbances caused by phenomena like the northern lights can be tracked by a 'social network' of ground-based instruments, according to a new study.

  • New study maps how ocean currents connect the world's fisheries

    It's a small world after all -- especially when it comes to marine fisheries, with a new study revealing they form a single network, with over $10 billion worth of fish each year being caught in a country other than the one in which it spawned.

  • Looking for freshwater in all the snowy places

    Snowflakes that cover mountains or linger under tree canopies are a vital freshwater resource for over a billion people around the world.

  • Methods and models

    It's a well-known fact that the ocean is one of the biggest absorbers of the carbon dioxide emitted by way of human activity. What's less well known is how the ocean's processes for absorbing that carbon change over time, and how they might affect its ability to buffer climate change.

  • Marine microbiology: Successful extremists

    In nutrient-poor deep-sea sediments, microbes belonging to the Archaea have outcompeted bacterial microorganisms for millions of years. Their ability to efficiently scavenge dead cells makes them the basal producers in the food chain.

  • New species of rock-eating shipworm identified in freshwater river in the Philippines

    A newly identified genus and species of worm-like, freshwater clam, commonly known as a shipworm, eats rock and expels sand as scat while it burrows like an ecosystem engineer in the Abatan River in the Philippines.

  • Melting of Himalayan glaciers has doubled in recent years

    A newly comprehensive study shows that melting of Himalayan glaciers caused by rising temperatures has accelerated dramatically since the start of the 21st century.

  • Plate tectonics may have driven 'Cambrian Explosion'

    The quest to discover what drove one of the most important evolutionary events in the history of life on Earth has taken a new, fascinating twist.

  • Extreme pressure and heat in Earth's mantle simulated

    Unlike flawless gems, fibrous diamonds often contain small saline inclusions. These give hints to scientists about the conditions under which diamonds are formed deep in the Earth's mantle. A research team has now solved the puzzle of the formation of these inclusions by simulating conditions of extreme heat and pressure in the laboratory.

  • South African forests show pathways to a sustainable future

    Native forests make up 1percent of the landscape in South Africa but could play a key role in reducing atmospheric carbon and identifying sustainable development practices that can be used globally to counter climate change.

  • Antarctic marine life recovery following the dinosaurs' extinction

    A new study shows how marine life around Antarctica returned after the extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs. A team studied just under 3000 marine fossils collected from Antarctica to understand how life on the sea floor recovered after the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) mass extinction 66 million years ago. They reveal it took one million years for the marine ecosystem to return to pre-extinction levels.

  • New evidence shows rapid response in the West Greenland landscape to Arctic climate shifts

    Evidence from an Arctic ecosystem experiencing rapid climate change reveals surprisingly tight coupling of environmental responses to climate shifts. Links between abrupt climate change and environmental response have long been considered delayed or dampened by internal ecosystem dynamics, or only strong when climate shifts are large in magnitude. The research team presents evidence that climate shifts of even moderate magnitude can rapidly force strong, pervasive environmental changes across a high-latitude system.