Earth in the News

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

  • Global marine analysis suggests food chain collapse

    A world-first global analysis of marine responses to climbing human carbon dioxide emissions has painted a grim picture of future fisheries and ocean ecosystems.

  • Melting of Antarctic ice shelves set to intensify

    New research projects a doubling of surface melting of Antarctic ice shelves by 2050 and that by 2100 melting may surpass intensities associated with ice shelf collapse, if greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel consumption continue at the present rate.

  • Field widens for environments, microbes that produce toxic form of mercury

    Thawing permafrost and contaminated sediment in marine coastal areas pose some of the greatest risks for the production of highly toxic methylmercury.

  • Paleoclimate researchers find connection between carbon cycles, climate trends

    Making predictions about climate variability often means looking to the past to find trends. Now paleoclimate researchers have found clues in exposed bedrock alongside an Alabama highway that could help forecast climate variability. In their study, the researchers verified evidence suggesting carbon dioxide decreased significantly at the end of the Ordovician Period, 450 million years ago, preceding an ice age and eventual mass extinction. These results will help climatologists better predict future environmental changes.

  • Horn of Africa drying ever faster as climate warms

    The Horn of Africa has become increasingly arid in sync with the global and regional warming of the last century and at a rate unprecedented in the last 2,000 years, according to new research. The scientists suggest that as global and regional warming continues, the eastern Horn of Africa -- which includes Somalia, Djibouti and Ethiopia -- will receive progressively less rain during the crucial 'long rains' season of March, April and May.

  • Could ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ happen?

    A researcher has produced a scientific study of the climate scenario featured in the disaster movie 'The Day After Tomorrow'. In the 2004 film, climate warming caused an abrupt collapse of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC), leading to catastrophic events such as tornadoes destroying Los Angeles, New York being flooded and the northern hemisphere freezing. Although the scientific credibility of the film drew criticism from climate scientists, the scenario of an abrupt collapse of the AMOC, as a consequence of anthropogenic greenhouse warming, was never assessed with a state-of-the-art climate model.Now scientists have found that, for a period of 20 years, the earth will cool instead of warm if global warming and a collapse of the AMOC occur simultaneously.

  • Unexpected information about Earth's climate history from Yellow River sediment

    By meticulously examining sediments in China's Yellow River, a Swedish-Chinese research group are showing that the history of tectonic and climate evolution on Earth may need to be rewritten.

  • Unexpected role of electrons in creating pulsating auroras

    Thanks to a lucky conjunction of two satellites, a ground-based array of all-sky cameras, and some spectacular aurora borealis, researchers have uncovered evidence for an unexpected role that electrons have in creating the dancing auroras. Though humans have been seeing auroras for thousands of years, we have only recently begun to understand what causes them.

  • Hundreds of new species discovered in fragile Eastern Himalayan region

    A sneezing monkey, a walking fish and a jewel-like snake are just some of a biological treasure trove of over 200 new species discovered in the Eastern Himalayas in recent years, according to a new report by WWF.

  • Earth's inner core was formed 1-1.5 billion years ago

    There have been many estimates for when the earth's inner core was formed, but scientists have used new data which indicates that the Earth's inner core was formed 1-1.5 billion years ago as it 'froze' from the surrounding molten iron outer core.

  • Distinguishing coincidence from causality: Connections in the climate system

    Detecting how changes in one spot on Earth -- in temperature, rain, wind -- are linked to changes in another, far away area is key to assessing climate risks. Scientists have now developed a new technique of finding out if one change can cause another change or not, and which regions are important gateways for such teleconnections. The method can be applied to assess global effects of local extreme weather events, but also to the diffusion of disturbances in financial markets, or the human brain.

  • Exploring cost-effective, non-polluting enhanced geothermal systems

    A new fracturing fluid has been created that may increase the ability to develop geothermal energy, scientists report. This advance of tapping the natural heat of Earth may improve the cost-effectiveness and cleanliness of the process.

  • Ancient rocks record first evidence for photosynthesis that made oxygen

    A new study shows that iron-bearing rocks that formed at the ocean floor 3.2 billion years ago carry unmistakable evidence of oxygen. The only logical source for that oxygen is the earliest known example of photosynthesis by living organisms, say geoscientists.

  • Ancient alga knew how to survive on land before it left water and evolved into the first plant

    A team of scientists has solved a long-running mystery about the first stages of plant life on earth.

  • Simpler way to estimate feedback between permafrost carbon, climate

    A simple model of permafrost carbon based on direct observations has been developed by a team of scientists. Their approach could help climate scientists evaluate how well permafrost dynamics are represented in Earth system models used to predict climate change.

  • The warmer the higher: Sea-level rise from Filchner-Ronne ice in Antarctica

    The more ice is melted of the Antarctic Filchner-Ronne shelf, the more ice flows into the ocean, and the more the region contributes to global sea-level rise. Unlike some some other parts of Antarctica, this region is not characterized by instabilities which, once triggered, can lead to persistent ice discharge into the ocean even without a further increase of warming. So for the Filchner-Ronne ice, this is a tiny bit of good news.

  • To breathe or to eat: Blue whales forage efficiently to maintain massive body size

    As the largest animals to have ever lived on Earth, blue whales maintain their enormous body size through efficient foraging strategies that optimize the energy they gain from the krill they eat, while also conserving oxygen when diving and holding their breath, a new study has found.

  • Researchers in Northwestern Hawaiian Islands finds highest rates of unique marine species

    Scientists returned from a 28-day research expedition aboard NOAA Ship Hi'ialakai exploring the deep coral reefs within Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. During the trip, scientists recorded numerous species of marine life never before seen, including a possible new species of seahorse, and a sea star not previously found in Hawaii.

  • Ancient ecosystem response to 'big five' mass extinction

    A new study explores one of the 'big five' mass extinctions, the Permian-Triassic event, revealing unexpected results about the types of animals that were most vulnerable to extinction, and the factors that might best predict community stability during times of great change. The authors say cutting-edge modeling techniques helped highlight the critical importance of understanding food webs (knowing 'who eats what') when trying to predict what communities look like before, during, and after a mass extinction.

  • Asteroid impact, volcanism were one-two punch for dinosaurs

    The debate whether an asteroid impact or volcanic eruptions in India led to the mass extinction 66 million years ago is becoming increasingly irrelevant, as new dates for the eruptions show that the two catastrophes were nearly simultaneous. Scientists found that the eruptions accelerated within 50,000 years of the impact and were likely reignited by the impact, which may have generated magnitude 9 earthquakes or stronger everywhere on Earth.