Earth in the News

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

  • Link between surface-water salinity and climate change examined

    New research explores the impact of de-icing salt from roads and highways on a local watershed. The findings offer hope for the watershed's future surface-water chloride concentrations.

  • Stagnation in the South Pacific

    A team led by geochemist has discovered important evidence that the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels at the end of the last ice age was triggered by changes in the Antarctic Ocean.

  • New insight into how magma feeds volcanic eruptions

    Researchers have provided new insights into how molten rock (magma) moves through the Earth's crust to feed volcanic eruptions. Using laboratory experiments involving water, jelly and laser imaging, researchers were able to demonstrate how magma magma flows through the Earth's crust to the surface through magma-filled cracks called dykes.

  • Tropical trees use unique method to resist drought

    Tropical trees in the Amazon Rainforest may be more drought resistant than previously thought, according to a new study. That's good news, since the Amazon stores about 20 percent of all carbon in the Earth's biomass, which helps reduce global warming by lowering the planet's greenhouse gas levels.

  • Theory suggests root efficiency, independence drove global spread of flora

    Researchers suggest that plants spread worldwide thanks to root adaptations that allowed them to become more efficient and independent. As plant species spread, roots became thinner so they could more efficiently explore poor soils for nutrients, and they shed their reliance on symbiotic fungi. The researchers report that root diameter and reliance on fungi most consistently characterize the plant communities across entire biomes such as deserts, savannas and temperate forests.

  • First evidence of surprising ocean warming around Galápagos corals

    A new analysis of the natural temperature archives stored in coral reefs shows the ocean around the Galápagos Islands has been warming since the 1970s. The finding surprised the research team, because the sparse instrumental records for sea surface temperature for that part of the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean did not show warming. Scientists thought strong upwelling of colder deep waters spared the region from the warming seen in other parts of the Pacific.

  • 'Chameleon' ocean bacteria can shift their colors

    Cyanobacteria -- which propel the ocean engine and help sustain marine life -- can shift their color like chameleons to match different colored light across the world's seas, according to new research.

  • Solar radiation mineralizes terrestrial dissolved organic carbon in the ocean

    Organic carbon dissolved in water plays a vital role in the Earth's carbon cycle. Understanding carbon cycling is central to understanding climate change and how aquatic communities are structured and supported. Scientists have found out that solar radiation mineralizes more terrestrial dissolved organic carbon in the ocean than in the inland waters.

  • Distant tropical storms have ripple effects on weather close to home

    Researchers report a breakthrough in making accurate predictions of weather weeks ahead. They've created an empirical model fed by careful analysis of 37 years of historical weather data. Their model centers on the relationship between two well-known global weather patterns: the Madden-Julian Oscillation and the quasi-biennial oscillation.

  • Open data help scientists unravel Earth systems

    Understanding nature and its processes has greatly benefitted from open data. Open remotely sensed data make hard-to-reach wilderness areas more accessible -- at least from above. These advances provide new opportunities for Earth system research.

  • Beluga whales dive deeper, longer to find food in Arctic

    Beluga whales that spend summers feeding in the Arctic are diving deeper and longer to find food than in earlier years, when sea ice covered more of the ocean for longer periods, according to a new analysis.

  • Land use change has warmed Earth's surface

    Recent changes to vegetation cover are causing Earth's surface to heat up. Activities like cutting down evergreen forests for agricultural expansion in the tropics create energy imbalances that lead to higher local surface temperatures and contribute to global warming.

  • Laser-ranged satellite measurement now accurately reflects Earth's tidal perturbations

    Tides on Earth have a far-reaching influence, including disturbing satellites' measurements by affecting their motion. The LAser RElativity Satellite (LARES), is the best ever relevant test particle to move in the Earth's gravitational field. In a new study, LARES proves its efficiency for high-precision probing of General Relativity and fundamental physics.

  • Involving the public in water policies is key to successful municipal water systems, study finds

    Informing residents about local water issues and involving them in local water policies are the keys to building healthy and resilient city water systems, according to a new study.

  • Nitrate flux in the Arctic not following the decreasing NOx emissions in neighboring countries

    Nitrate deposits in the Arctic remains high even after the turn of the century, despite environmental policies adopted by neighboring countries in the late 20th century to cut nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions.

  • Plants colonized Earth 100 million years earlier than previously thought

    A new study on the timescale of plant evolution has concluded that the first plants to colonize the Earth originated around 500 million years ago -- 100 million years earlier than previously thought.

  • Scientists eavesdrop on volcanic rumblings to forecast eruptions

    Sound waves generated by burbling lakes of lava atop some volcanoes point to greater odds of magmatic outbursts. This finding could provide advance warning to people who live near active volcanoes.

  • Soft tissue fossil clues could help search for ancient life on Earth and other planets

    Fossils that preserve entire organisms (including both hard and soft body parts) are critical to our understanding of evolution and ancient life on Earth. However, these exceptional deposits are extremely rare. New research suggests that the mineralogy of the surrounding earth is key to conserving soft parts of organisms, and finding more exceptional fossils. The work could potentially support the Mars Rover Curiosity in its sample analysis, and speed up the search for traces of life on other planets.

  • Geophysicists and atmospheric scientists partner to track typhoons' seismic footprints

    A remarkable collaboration between atmospheric science and geophysics could change the way we think about storms and seismicity, and could lead to an answer to the often-asked 'Are hurricanes getting stronger?' The team has identified the seismic footprint of typhoons and hurricanes, which allows climate scientists to add decades to their dataset of powerful storms.

  • Mystery of phytoplankton survival in nutrient-poor pacific

    Upwelling in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean provides essential nutrients for the region’s microscopic plants, but iron – a key ingredient that facilitates nitrogen consumption – is in short supply. To compensate, the phytoplankton band together to recycle the scarce metal and retain it in their upper-ocean habitat, scientists have discovered.