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Earth in the News

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

  • Certain Arctic lakes store more greenhouse gases than they release

    New research counters a widely-held scientific view that thawing permafrost uniformly accelerates atmospheric warming, indicating instead that certain Arctic lakes store more greenhouse gases than they emit into the atmosphere.

  • Asteroid impacts significantly altered ancient Earth

    New research shows that more than four billion years ago, the surface of Earth was heavily reprocessed as a result of giant asteroid impacts. A new model based on existing lunar and terrestrial data sheds light on the role asteroid bombardments played in the geological evolution of the uppermost layers of the Hadean Earth.

  • Shrinking dinosaurs evolved into flying birds

    Scientists have revealed how massive, meat-eating, ground-dwelling dinosaurs evolved into agile flying birds: they just kept shrinking and shrinking, for over 50 million years.  

  • Antarctic ice sheet is result of carbon dioxide decrease, not continental breakup

    Climate modelers have shown that the most likely explanation for the initiation of Antarctic glaciation during a major climate shift 34 million years ago was decreased carbon dioxide levels. The finding counters a 40-year-old theory suggesting massive rearrangements of Earth's continents caused global cooling and the abrupt formation of the Antarctic ice sheet. It will provide scientists insight into the climate change implications of current rising global carbon dioxide levels.

  • Tidal forces gave moon its shape early in its history, new analysis finds

    The shape of the moon deviates from a simple sphere in ways that scientists have struggled to explain. A new study shows that most of the moon's overall shape can be explained by taking into account tidal effects acting early in the moon's history. The results provide insights into the moon's early history, its orbital evolution, and its current orientation in the sky.

  • Mercury's bizzare magnetic field tells scientists how its interior is different from Earth's

    Mercury's interior is different from the Earth's interior in a way that explains Mercury's bizarre magnetic field, planetary physicists report. Measurements from NASA's Messenger spacecraft have revealed that Mercury's magnetic field is approximately three times stronger at its northern hemisphere than its southern one.

  • Scientists caution against exploitation of deep ocean

    The world's oceans are vast and deep, yet rapidly advancing technology and the quest for extracting resources from previously unreachable depths is beginning to put the deep seas on the cusp of peril, an international team of scientists has warned.

  • Huge waves measured for first time in Arctic Ocean

    The first measurements of waves in the middle of the Arctic Ocean recorded house-sized waves during a September 2012 storm. More sensors are going out this summer to study waves in newly ice-free Arctic waters.

  • Famine in the Horn of Africa (1984) was caused by El Nino and currents in the Indian Ocean

    Oceanic patterns are important drivers of climatic variability. There is a clear link between periods of drought in the North Ethiopian Highlands and oceanic phases of El Nino, the Indian Ocean Dipole and the Southwestern Monsoons.

  • From finding Nemo to minerals: What riches lie in the deep sea?

    As fishing and the harvesting of metals, gas and oil have expanded deeper and deeper into the ocean, scientists are drawing attention to the services provided by the deep sea, the world’s largest environment.

  • Evolution in rainforest flies points to climate change survival

    Scientists believe some tropical species may be able to evolve and adapt to the effects of climate change. The new findings suggests some sensitive rainforest-restricted species may survive climate change and avoid extinction. But only if the change is not too abrupt and dramatically beyond the conditions that a species currently experiences.

  • Lead pollution beat explorers to South Pole, persists today

    Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen became the first man to reach the South Pole in December 1911. More than 100 years later, an international team of scientists has proven that air pollution from industrial activities arrived to the planet's southern pole long before any human. Using data from 16 ice cores, industrial lead contamination was pervasive throughout Antarctica by the late 19th century.

  • Mineral magic? Common mineral capable of making and breaking bonds

    Researchers have demonstrated how a common mineral acts as a catalysts for specific hydrothermal organic reactions -- negating the need for toxic solvents or expensive reagents.

  • Global warming amplifier: Rising water vapor in upper troposphere to intensify climate change

    A new study from scientists at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and colleagues confirms rising levels of water vapor in the upper troposphere -- a key amplifier of global warming -- will intensify climate change impacts over the next decades. The new study is the first to show that increased water vapor concentrations in the atmosphere are a direct result of human activities.

  • Dinosaurs fell victim to perfect storm of events, study shows

    Dinosaurs might have survived the asteroid strike that wiped them out if it had taken place slightly earlier or later in history, scientists say. They found that in the few million years before a 10km-wide asteroid struck what is now Mexico, Earth was experiencing environmental upheaval. This included extensive volcanic activity, changing sea levels and varying temperatures. At this time, the dinosaurs' food chain was weakened by a lack of diversity among the large plant-eating dinosaurs on which others preyed.

  • Europe's habitat and wildlife is vulnerable to climate change

    New research has identified areas of the Earth that are high priorities for conservation in the face of climate change. Europe is particularly vulnerable, as it has the lowest fraction of its land area, only four per cent, of any continent in ‘refugia’ – areas of biological diversity that support many species where natural environmental conditions remain relatively constant during times of great environmental change.

  • Climate change and air pollution will combine to curb food supplies

    Many studies have shown the potential for global climate change to cut food supplies. But these studies have, for the most part, ignored the interactions between increasing temperature and air pollution -- specifically ozone pollution, which is known to damage crops. A new study shows that these interactions can be quite significant, suggesting that policymakers need to take both warming and air pollution into account in addressing food security.

  • Climate Change Increases Risk of Crop Slowdown in Next 20 Years

    The world faces a small but substantially increased risk over the next two decades of a major slowdown in the growth of global corn and wheat yields because of climate change, according to new research. Such a slowdown would occur as global demand for crops rapidly increases.

  • Intensity of hurricanes: New study helps improve predictions of storm intensity

    While predicting the path of hurricanes has gotten better, little has been done to improve predicting a storm's intensity. That is, until now. "The air-water interface -- whether it had significant waves or significant spray -- is a big factor in storm intensity," said one expert involved in a new study. "Hurricanes gain heat energy through the interface and they lose mechanical energy at the interface."

  • Parched West is using up underground water: Study points to grave implications for Western U.S. water supply

    A new study finds more than 75 percent of the water loss in the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin since late 2004 came from underground resources. The extent of groundwater loss may pose a greater threat to the water supply of the western United States than previously thought.