Earth in the News

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

  • Hot spot at Hawaii? Not so fast

    Geophysicists use a new model to conclude that volcanic hot spots around the globe aren't moving as fast as recently thought.

  • Spoiler alert: Computer simulations provide preview of upcoming eclipse

    Scientists have forecast the corona of the sun during the upcoming eclipse. The findings shed light on what the eclipse of the sun might look like Aug. 21 when it will be visible across much of the US, tracing a 70-mile-wide band across 14 states.

  • Climate change and habitat conversion combine to homogenize nature

    Climate change and habitat conversion to agriculture are working together to homogenize nature. In other words, the more things change, the more they are the same.

  • Study validates East Antarctic ice sheet to remain stable even if western ice sheet melts

    A new study validates that the central core of the East Antarctic ice sheet should remain stable even if the West Antarctic ice sheet melts.

  • New gene catalog of ocean microbiome reveals surprises

    Oceanographers report completing the largest single-site microbiome gene catalog constructed to date. With this new information, the team discovered nutrient limitation is a central driver in the evolution of ocean microbe genomes.

  • Reed warblers have a sense for magnetic declination

    Researchers recently showed that migratory reed warblers depend on an internal geomagnetic map to guide them on their long-distance journeys. But it wasn't clear how the birds were solving the difficult 'longitude problem,' determining where they were along the east-west axis and which way to go. The team's latest report shows birds rely on changes from east to west in magnetic declination, the angular difference between geographic north and magnetic north.

  • Whales turn tail at ocean mining noise

    A new international study has measured the effect of loud sounds on migrating humpback whales as concern grows as oceans become noisier. Scientists have said one of the main sources of ocean noise was oil and gas exploration, due to geologists firing off loud acoustic air guns to probe the structure of the ocean floor in search of fossil fuels.

  • Measuring global biodiversity change

    A new article shows how Essential Biodiversity Variables can be produced to measure biodiversity change at a global scale.

  • Greenland ice flow likely to speed up

    Flow of the Greenland Ice Sheet is likely to speed up in the future, despite a recent slowdown, because its outlet glaciers slide over wet sediment, not hard rock, new research based on seismic surveys has confirmed. This sediment will become weaker and more slippery as global temperatures rise and meltwater supply becomes more variable. The findings challenge the view that the recent slowdowns in ice flow would continue in the long term.

  • Mystery of how first animals appeared on Earth solved

    Research has solved the mystery of how the first animals appeared on Earth, a pivotal moment for the planet without which humans would not exist.

  • Radioactive 129I waste used to track ocean currents for 15,000 km after discharge from nuclear plants

    Radioactive 129I has traveled the equivalent of a third of the way round the globe, since being released from nuclear fuel reprocessing plants in the UK and France. The iodine's 15,000 km journey begins in the nuclear plants at Sellafield and La Hague and continues via the Arctic Ocean and then southward via the Grand Banks towards Bermuda, where it is found at very low concentrations about 20 years later.

  • How friction evolves during an earthquake

    Using high-speed photography and digital image correlation techniques, engineers show that friction along a faultline has a complex evolution during an earthquake that is dictated, in part, by slip velocity: the sliding of the two sides of the fault against one another.

  • Supervolcanoes: A key to America's electric future?

    Researchers show that lake sediments preserved within ancient supervolcanoes can host large lithium-rich clay deposits. A domestic source of lithium would help meet the rising demand for this valuable metal, which is critical for modern technology.

  • The key to drought-tolerant crops may be in the leaves

    Scientists are exploring how to generate plants that are more drought-resistant as the water supplies decline in major agricultural states.

  • Climate change projected to significantly increase harmful algal blooms in US freshwaters

    Harmful algal blooms known to pose risks to human and environmental health in large freshwater reservoirs and lakes are projected to increase because of climate change.

  • Tiny fraction of oceans could meet world's fish demand

    Covering 70 percent of Earth's surface, the world's oceans are vast and deep. So vast, in fact, that nearly every coastal country has the potential to meet its own domestic seafood needs through aquaculture. In fact, each country could do so using a tiny fraction of its ocean territory.

  • Ozone treaty taking a bite out of US greenhouse gas emissions

    The Montreal Protocol, the international treaty adopted to restore Earth's protective ozone layer in 1989, has significantly reduced emissions of ozone-depleting chemicals from the United States. In a twist, a new study shows the 30-year old treaty has had a major side benefit of reducing climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions from the US.

  • New plate adds plot twist to ancient tectonic tale

    Misfit plates in the Pacific led scientists to the discovery of a microplate between the Galapagos Islands and the South American coast.

  • Experiments cast doubt on theory of how Earth was formed

    New geochemical research indicates that existing theories of the formation of the Earth may be mistaken.

  • World's largest volcanic range may lurk beneath Antarctic ice

    West Antarctica's vast ice sheet conceals what may be the largest volcanic region on Earth, new research has revealed.