Earth in the News

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

  • A timescale for the origin and evolution of all of life on Earth

    A new study has used a combination of genomic and fossil data to explain the history of life on Earth, from its origin to the present day.

  • The bright ways forests affect their environment

    New study finds volatile gases emitted by forests increase the amount of diffuse light reaching the forests. The study shows that this increased diffuse sunlight enhanced the carbon absorbed by the world's forests by an amount equal to 10 percent of global fossil fuel emissions and industry emissions.

  • Carbon reserves in Central American soils still affected by ancient Mayan deforestation

    Deforestation is suspected to have contributed to the mysterious collapse of Mayan civilization more than 1,000 years ago. A new study shows that the forest-clearing also decimated carbon reservoirs in the tropical soils of the Yucatan peninsula region long after ancient cities were abandoned and the forests grew back.

  • Particulate pollution's impact varies greatly depending on where it originated

    Aerosols are tiny particles that are spewed into the atmosphere by human activities, including burning coal and wood. They have negative effects on air quality -- damaging human health and agricultural productivity. New research demonstrates that the impact these fine particles have on the climate varies greatly depending on where they were released.

  • Previously grainy wheat genome comes into focus

    An international consortium has completed the sequence of wheat's colossal genome.

  • Study of material surrounding distant stars shows Earth's ingredients 'pretty normal'

    The Earth's building blocks seem to be built from 'pretty normal' ingredients, according to researchers working with the world's most powerful telescopes. Scientists have measured the compositions of 18 different planetary systems from up to 456 light years away and compared them to ours, and found that many elements are present in similar proportions to those found on Earth. This will have implications for finding Earth-like bodies elsewhere.

  • Climate change sea level rises could increase risk for more devastating tsunamis worldwide

    The threat of rising sea levels to coastal cities and communities throughout the world is well known, but new findings show the likely increase of flooding farther inland from tsunamis following earthquakes.

  • When viruses infect phytoplankton, it can change the clouds

    Microscopic plant-like organisms called phytoplankton support the diversity of life in the ocean. Scientists now report that one species, Emiliania huxleyi, and a virus closely associated with it, might be responsible for changes in cloud properties as well. When infected, E. huxleyi releases its chalky shell into the air, where it acts as an aerosol reflecting sunlight and even affecting cloud creation and movement.

  • Arctic seabird populations respond to climate change

    Seabirds such as gulls can be key indicators of environmental change as their populations respond to shifts in their ocean habitat over time. A new study investigates how several species have responded to changing environmental conditions in the Arctic over the last four decades. The authors find that a warming ocean is directly and indirectly affecting seabird populations in Alaska.

  • Faster way to make mineral to remove carbon dioxide from atmosphere

    Scientists have developed an accelerated way to produce magnesite, a mineral which can capture the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, at room temperature. Removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere would slow global warming. This work takes a different approach to existing processes, and may make it economically viable, but it is at an early stage and is not yet an industrial process.

  • Natural refrigerant replacements could reduce energy costs and conserve the environment

    The 1987 Montreal Protocol and the 1997 Kyoto Protocol called for countries around the world to phase out substances that deplete the ozone layer, but many HVAC systems still use synthetic refrigerants that violate those international agreements and inflict environmental damage. Recently, researchers investigated how natural refrigerants could be used in geothermal heat pumps to reduce energy consumption and operating costs.

  • Diving robots find Antarctic winter seas exhale surprising amounts of carbon dioxide

    A new study uses data gathered by floating drones in the Southern Ocean over past winters to learn how much carbon dioxide is transferred by the surrounding seas. Results show that in winter the open water nearest the sea ice surrounding Antarctica releases significantly more carbon dioxide than previously believed.

  • Melt-rate of West Antarctic Ice Sheet highly sensitive to changes in ocean temperatures

    Melting of ice shelves in West Antarctica speeds up and slows down in response to changes in deep ocean temperature, and is far more variable than previously thought, according to new research.

  • Scientists trace atmospheric rise in CO2 during deglaciation to deep Pacific Ocean

    How carbon made it out of the ocean and into the atmosphere has remained one of the most important mysteries of science. A new study, provides some of the most compelling evidence for how it happened -- a 'flushing' of the deep Pacific Ocean caused by the acceleration of water circulation patterns that begin around Antarctica.

  • Meteorite bombardment likely to have created the Earth's oldest rocks

    Scientists have found that 4.02-billion-year-old silica-rich felsic rocks from the Acasta River, Canada -- the oldest rock formation known on Earth -- probably formed at high temperatures and at a surprisingly shallow depth of the planet's nascent crust. The high temperatures needed to melt the shallow crust were likely caused by a meteorite bombardment around half a billion years after the planet formed.

  • Historic space weather could clarify what's next

    Scientists have discovered an underlying repeatable pattern in how space weather activity changes with the solar cycle - having analysed solar activity for the last half century.

  • Sea stars critical to kelp forest resilience

    A study by a resource and environmental management researcher reveals that sunflower sea stars play a critical role in the resilience of B.C.'s kelp forests, which are among the most productive ecosystems on Earth. Similar to land-based forests, kelp forests provide essential habitat for species and also help remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

  • Converting carbon dioxide into methane or ethane selectively

    Researchers have developed high-efficiency photocatalysts that convert carbon dioxide into methane or ethane with graphene-covered reduced titanium dioxide. The finding is expected to be utilized in the carbon dioxide reduction and recycling industries.

  • Does rain follow the plow?

    There are many factors that play a role in whether or not it rains, and new research shows that human activity may be one of them.

  • Back to the future of climate change

    Researchers are looking to the geologic past to make future projections about climate change. Their research focuses on the ancient Tethys Ocean (site of the present-day Mediterranean Sea) and provides a benchmark for present and future climate and ocean models.