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Earth in the News

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

  • Ants to the rescue: How super-organisms could become super pest controllers

    As global population rises and finite resources dwindle, farmers need new, more sustainable ways to control pests. Now, ecologists have found a safe, sustainable and cost-effective new pest control. But rather than a high-tech compound or genetic technology, it's a tiny, low-tech organism: the ant.

  • Songbird habitat affects reproduction, survival

    A professor who studies birds around the world has discovered trends in how the offspring grow, how parents care for the young and how well the young survive based on where they live.

  • Scientists warn leaders of dangers of thawing permafrost

    WHRC scientists have counseled the State Department on policies that could control permafrost thaw, including reducing global carbon emissions from fossil fuel use and deforestation, and limiting emissions of 'black carbon,' sooty particles that darken snow and ice and hasten Arctic warming.

  • Intensity of desert storms may affect ocean phytoplankton

    Scientists have determined that once iron is deposited in the ocean, it has a very short residence time, spending only six months in surface waters before sinking into the deep ocean. This high turnover of iron signals that large seasonal changes in desert dust may have dramatic effects on surface phytoplankton that depend on iron.

  • Soils protect the natural environment

    No matter where you live, soils protect the natural environment around you.

  • Historic 2013 Colorado Front Range storm accomplished up to 1,000 years of erosion

    The historic September 2013 storm that triggered widespread flooding across Colorado's Front Range eroded the equivalent of hundreds, or even as much as 1,000 years worth of accumulated sediment from the foothills west of Boulder, researchers have discovered.

  • Mechanism behind 'strange' earthquakes discovered

    Scientists have discovered the mechanism that generates earthquakes that occur away from tectonic plate boundaries.

  • Lab experiments question popular measure of ancient ocean temperatures

    The membranes of sediment-entombed archaea are an increasingly popular way to determine ocean surface temperatures back to the age of the dinosaurs. But new results show that changing oxygen can affect the reading by as much as 21 degrees C.

  • Earth's mineralogy unique in the cosmos

    New research predicts that Earth has more than 1,500 undiscovered minerals and that the exact mineral diversity of our planet is unique and could not be duplicated anywhere in the cosmos.

  • Earth's extremes point the way to extraterrestrial life

    Astrobiologists draw upon what is known about Earth's most extreme lifeforms and the environments of Mars and Titan, Saturn's moon, to paint a clearer picture of what life on other planets could be like.

  • Rare nautilus sighted for the first time in three decades

    In early August, a biologist returned from the South Pacific with news that he encountered an old friend, one he hadn't seen in over three decades. The professor had seen what he considers one of the world's rarest animals, a remote encounter that may become even more infrequent if illegal fishing practices continue.

  • Ocean currents: Debut of the global mix-master

    The Atlantic Circumpolar Current encircles Antarctica with a constant eastward flow in the Southern Ocean. Researchers determined that it originated 30 million years ago, several million years after the tectonic opening of a deep-water channel in the Tasmanian gateway. The Tasmanian gateway was initially the conduit for westward current flow, but as the gateway migrated north tectonically, it eventually aligned with the mid-latitude westerly winds and effected the onset of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current.

  • Catastrophic landslides post-earthquake

    In the last few months, it has once more become clear that large earthquakes can solicit catastrophic landsliding. In the wake of the Nepal earthquake, the landslide community has been warning of persistent and damaging mass wasting due to monsoon rainfall in the epicentral area. However, very little is actually known about the legacy of earthquakes on steep, unstable hillslopes.

  • New light shed on end of Snowball Earth period

    The second ice age during the Cryogenian period was not followed by the sudden and chaotic melting-back of the ice as previously thought, but ended with regular advances and retreats of the ice, according to new research.

  • Climate profound impact on marine biodiversity

    New research into the impact of climate change has found that warming oceans will cause profound changes in the global distribution of marine biodiversity. The study found that a rapidly warming climate would cause many species to expand into new regions, which would impact on native species, while others with restricted ranges, particularly those around the tropics, are more likely to face extinction.

  • Lucky four-leaf clovers in the sub-arctic could prove valuable to future plant breeding

    The lucky discovery of four-leaf clovers in the sub-arctic could prove valuable to future plant breeding research.

  • Self-healing landscape: Landslides after earthquake

    In mountainous regions earthquakes often cause strong landslides, which can be exacerbated by heavy rain. However, after an initial increase, the frequency of these mass wasting events, often enormous and dangerous,  declines, in fact independently of meteorological events and aftershocks. Even after strong earthquake the activity of landslides returns back over the course of one to four years to the background level before the earthquake.

  • Greenhouse gases caused glacial retreat during last Ice Age

    A recalculation of the dates at which boulders were uncovered by melting glaciers at the end of the last Ice Age has conclusively shown that the glacial retreat was due to rising levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, as opposed to other types of forces. The data helps to confirm predictions of future glacial retreat, and that most of the world's glaciers may disappear in the next few centuries.

  • The unique ecology of human predators

    Research reveals new insight behind widespread wildlife extinctions, shrinking fish sizes, and disruptions to global food chains. 'Our wickedly efficient killing technology, global economic systems and resource management that prioritize short-term benefits to humanity have given rise to the human super predator,' says an expert.

  • Boreal forests challenged by global change

    Forest management must adapt in order to ensure that forests stay healthy in a time of unprecedented environmental change, say experts. Boreal forests are one of the ecosystems most affected by climate change, with temperatures in the arctic and boreal domains recently warming at rates as high as 0.5°C per decade, and potential future warming of 6 to 11°C over vast northern regions by 2100.