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Earth in the News

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

  • Actions on climate change bring better health, study says

    The number of extremely hot days in Eastern and Midwestern U.S. cities is projected to triple by mid-century, according to a new study. In presenting their synthesis, the study authors seek to encourage efforts that benefit both the health of the planet and the health of people.

  • Arctic sea ice helps remove carbon dioxide from atmosphere, study shows

    Climate change is a fact, and most of the warming is caused by human activity. The Arctic is now so warm that the extent of sea ice has decreased by about 30 percent in summer and in winter, sea ice is getting thinner. New research has shown that sea ice removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. If Arctic sea ice is reduced, we may therefore be facing an increase of atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, researchers warn.

  • NASA launches RapidScat wind watcher to space station

    A new NASA mission that will boost global monitoring of ocean winds for improved weather forecasting and climate studies is among about 5,000 pounds (2,270 kilograms) of NASA science investigations and cargo now on their way to the International Space Station aboard SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft. The cargo ship launched on the company's Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 10:52 p.m. PDT Saturday, Sept. 20 (1:52 a.m. EDT Sunday, Sept. 21).

  • Climate change: Dwindling wind may tip predator-prey balance

    Rising temperatures and shifting precipitation patterns may get the lion’s share of our climate change attention, but predators may want to give some thought to wind, according to a zoologist’s study, which is among the first to demonstrate the way “global stilling” may alter predator-prey relationships.

  • NASA HS3 instrument views two dimensions of clouds

    NASA’s Cloud Physics Lidar (CPL) instrument, flying aboard an unmanned Global Hawk aircraft in this summer’s Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel, or HS3, mission, is studying the changing profile of the atmosphere in detail to learn more about how hurricanes form and strengthen.

  • NASA's wind-watching ISS-RapidScat ready for launch

    The fourth SpaceX cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS) under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract, carrying the ISS-RapidScat scatterometer instrument designed and built by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, is scheduled to launch Saturday, Sept. 20, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The one-day adjustment in the launch date was made to accommodate preparations of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and was coordinated with the station's partners and managers.

  • Mysterious volcanic eruption of 1808 described

    New light has been shed on one of the biggest volcanic eruptions in the last 500 years -- the so-called 'Unknown eruption' -- thanks to an unusual collaboration between a historian and a team of earth scientists.

  • Nile River monitoring influences northeast Africa's future

    Research that monitors the volume of water in the Nile River Basin will help to level the playing field for more than 200 million northeast Africans who rely on the river's water supply. "Water levels can be affected by both human-made and natural causes, and our research separates the effects of rain downpours, drought and environmental degradation, so that we can learn about the effects of human uses," one author noted.

  • Tropical rabbitfish a threat to Mediterranean Sea ecosystems

    The tropical rabbitfish, which have devastated algal forests in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, pose a major threat to the entire Mediterranean basin if their distribution continues to expand as the climate warms, a new study warns. Researchers surveyed more than 1000 kilometers of coastline in Turkey and Greece, where two species of plant-eating rabbitfish have become dominant, and found regions with abundant rabbitfish had become rocky barrens.

  • Is Sahara Desert several million years older than previously thought?

    The Sahara is the world’s largest subtropical desert. During the last decades, numerous scientific studies have probed its geological and archeological archives seeking to reveal its history. Despite some important breakthroughs, there are still basic questions that lack satisfactory answers. For example, how old is the Sahara desert? It is widely believed that Sahara desert first appeared during the last 2 to 3 million years, but recent discoveries such as ancient sand dunes and dust records in marine cores push the possible onset of Saharan aridity back in time by several million years.

  • The future of global agriculture may include new land, fewer harvests

    Climate change may expand suitable cropland, particularly in the Northern high latitudes, but tropical regions may becoming decreasingly suitable.

  • New explanation for origin of plate tectonics: What set Earth's plates in motion?

    Geologists have a new explanation for the origin of plate tectonics. Researchers suggest it was triggered by the spreading of early continents then it eventually became a self-sustaining process.

  • New instruments to learn about hurricane form and strength

    NASA's Cloud Physics Lidar instrument, flying aboard an unmanned Global Hawk aircraft in this summer's Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel, or HS3, mission, is studying the changing profile of the atmosphere in detail to learn more about how hurricanes form and strengthen.

  • Study on global carbon cycle may require reappraisal of climate events in Earth's history

    A recent study of the global carbon cycle offers a new perspective of Earth's climate records through time. Scientists suggest that one of the current methods for interpreting ancient changes in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and oceans may need to be re-evaluated.

  • The Gulf Stream kept going during the last Ice Age

    The warm Atlantic water continued to flow into the icy Nordic seas during the coldest periods of the last Ice Age. An ice age may sound as a stable period of cold weather, but the name deceives. In the high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, the period was characterized by significant climate changes. Cold periods (stadials) switched abruptly to warmer periods (interstadials) and back.

  • 3-D printing of rocks and fossils

    Geologists are using 3-D printing to study the pores within limestone reservoir rocks. A better understanding of the pore networks within the rocks could help industry get at more oil.

  • Tropical tree microbiome discovered in Panama

    Despite the fact that tropical forests are the most biodiverse terrestrial ecosystems on the planet, more is known about belly-button bacteria than bacteria on trees in the tropics. Scientists working on Panama's Barro Colorado Island discovered that small leaf samples from a single tree were home to more than 400 different kinds of bacteria. The combined sample from 57 tree species contained more than 7,000 different kinds.

  • New producer of crucial vitamin B12 discovered

    A single group of microorganisms may be responsible for much of the world's vitamin B12 production in the oceans, with implications for the global carbon cycle and climate change, researchers have discovered. Thaumarchaeota, they say, are likely dominant vitamin B12 producers.

  • Early Earth less 'Hellish' than previously thought

    Conditions on Earth during its first 500 million years may have been cool enough to form oceans of water instead of being too hot for life to form. This alternate view of Earth's first geologic eon, called the Hadean, has gained substantial new support from the first detailed comparison of zircon crystals that formed more than 4 billion years ago with those formed contemporaneously in Iceland, which has been proposed as a possible geological analog for early Earth.

  • How a change in slope affects lava flows

    As soon as lava flows from a volcano, exposure to air and wind causes it to start to cool and harden. Rather than hardening evenly, the energy exchange tends to take place primarily at the surface.