Earth in the News

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

  • River research reveals scale of macroplastic pollution

    Plastic pollution clogs river systems for considerably longer than previously thought, new research shows.

  • Records from Lake Magadi, Kenya, suggest environmental variability driven by changes in Earth’s orbit

    Rift Valley lakes within eastern Africa range from freshwater to highly alkaline systems and are homes to diverse ecosystems. These Rift Valley lakes are also sedimentary repositories, yielding a high-resolution environmental record that can be targeted to better understand the environmental and climatic context of human evolution over the past few million years in eastern Africa.

  • Limiting the impacts of technology materials for the low carbon transition

    Researchers have demonstrated how a detailed 'cradle to grave' evaluation at the outset of new metal mining explorations can greatly mitigate against negative environmental impacts.

  • Loss of picky-eating fish threatens coral reef food webs

    The networks of predator fish and their prey found on coral reefs all over the world are remarkably similar, and those predator fish are pickier eaters than previously thought. These delicate ecosystems become even more vulnerable when these specialized hunters go extinct.

  • Coral reef biodiversity predicted to shuffle rather than collapse as climate changes

    Most coral reef biodiversity consists of tiny organisms living deep within the three-dimensional reef matrix. New research reveals that the species which dominate experimental coral reef communities shift due to climate change, but the total biodiversity does not decline under future ocean conditions of warming and acidification predicted by the end of the century.

  • Coral reefs are 50% less able to provide food, jobs, and climate protection than in 1950s, putting millions at risk

    The capacity of coral reefs to provide ecosystem services such as food and jobs, relied on by millions of people worldwide, has declined by half since the 1950s, according to a new study. Other findings are equally bleak: the authors found that global coverage of living corals had declined by about half since the 1950s and consequently, the diversity of species had also declined, by more than 60 per cent. Finding targets for recovery and climate adaptation would require a global effort, while also addressing needs at a local level, authors say.

  • Plants evolved complexity in two bursts -- with a 250-million-year hiatus

    A new method for quantifying plant evolution reveals that after the onset of early seed plants, complexity halted for 250 million years until the diversification of flowering plants about 100 million years ago.

  • Researchers infuse bacteria with silver to improve power efficiency in fuel cells

    A team of engineers and chemists has taken a major step forward in the development of microbial fuel cells -- a technology that utilizes natural bacteria to extract electrons from organic matter in wastewater to generate electrical currents.

  • Good for groundwater – bad for crops? Plastic particles release pollutants in upper soil layers

    In agriculture, large quantities of nano- and microplastics end up in the soil through compost, sewage sludge and the use of mulching foils. The plastic particles always carry various pollutants with them. However, they do not transport them into the groundwater, as is often assumed. Environmental geoscientists have now determined that the plastic particles release the pollutants in the upper soil layers: they do not generally contaminate the groundwater, but have a negative effect on soil microbes and crops.

  • Climate change threatens base of polar oceans' bountiful food webs

    The cold polar oceans give rise to some of the largest food webs on Earth. And at their base are microscopic, photosynthetic algae. But human-induced climate change, a new study suggests, is displacing these important cold-water communities of algae with warm-adapted ones, a trend that threatens to destabilize the delicate marine food web and change the oceans as we know them.

  • Act now to benefit economically from peatland restoration

    Restoring the world's depleted peatlands now rather than later would have massive economic benefits to society, according to new research. A new study has for the first time calculated the monetary costs of delaying restoration of a natural resource that plays a huge environmental role globally, including in reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

  • AI system identifies buildings damaged by wildfire

    A deep learning approach to classifying buildings with wildfire damage may help responders focus their recovery efforts and offer more immediate information to displaced residents.

  • World-famous sardine migration explained by genomics

    Scientists have discovered how the Sardine Run, one of the world's biggest migration events, works. This spectacular event, considered the 'Greatest Shoal on Earth', involves the movement of hundreds of millions of sardines from their cool-temperate core range into the warmer subtropical waters of the Indian Ocean, on South Africa's east coast.

  • Australian wildfires triggered massive algal blooms in Southern Ocean

    Smoke and ash from the 2019-20 Australian wildfires triggered widespread algal blooms in the Southern Ocean thousands of miles downwind, a new study finds. The study is the first to conclusively link a large-scale response in marine life to fertilization by iron aerosols from wildfire emissions. It raises intriguing questions about the role wildfires may play in spurring the growth of marine phytoplankton and how that may affect oceanic carbon uptake and productivity.

  • Natural cycles in the Gulf of Alaska accentuate ocean acidification

    New research shows that the fluctuations of major wind and ocean circulation systems can temporarily accelerate or reverse the rate of ocean acidification in the Gulf of Alaska.

  • What lies beneath: Volcanic secrets revealed

    Lava samples have revealed a new truth about the geological make-up of the Earth's crust and could have implications for volcanic eruption early warning systems, a new study has found.

  • Species in polar regions hard hit by climate change

    Many species will become extinct as a consequence of global warming. This is the prediction of a mathematical model. The simulations show that climate change will have a particularly large impact on ecosystems in polar regions, mirroring changes that can already be seen in the natural world.

  • New ocean temperature data help scientists make their hot predictions

    So many climate models, so little time ... A new way of measuring ocean temperatures helps scientists sort the likely from unlikely scenarios of global warming.

  • Uncertainty on climate change in textbooks linked to uncertainty in students

    A new study suggests textbook wording that portrays climate change information as uncertain can influence how middle and high school students feel about the information, even for students who say they already know about climate change and its human causes.

  • A recent reversal in the response of western Greenland’s ice caps to climate change

    Greenland may be best known for its enormous continental scale ice sheet that soars up to 3,000 meters above sea level, whose rapid melting is a leading contributor to global sea level rise. But surrounding this massive ice sheet, which covers 79% of the world's largest island, is Greenland's rugged coastline dotted with ice capped mountainous peaks. These peripheral glaciers and ice caps are now also undergoing severe melting due to anthropogenic (human-caused) warming. However, climate warming and the loss of these ice caps may not have always gone hand-in-hand.