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Earth in the News

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

  • How were fossil tracks made by Early Triassic swimming reptiles so well preserved?

    That swim tracks made by tetrapods occur in high numbers in deposits from the Early Triassic is well known. What is less clear is why the tracks are so abundant and well preserved. Paleontologists have now determined that a unique combination of factors in Early Triassic delta systems resulted in the production and unusually widespread preservation of the swim tracks: delayed ecologic recovery, depositional environments, and tetrapod swimming behavior.

  • Cryptochrome protein helps birds navigate via magnetic field

    Researchers have found one one possible explanation for some birds' ability to sense the earth's magnetic field and use it to orient themselves: a magnetically sensitive protein called cryptochrome that mediates circadian rhythms in plants and animals.

  • Sun has more impact on the climate in cool periods

    The activity of the Sun is an important factor in the complex interaction that controls our climate. New research now shows that the impact of the Sun is not constant over time, but has greater significance when the Earth is cooler.

  • Modern logging techniques benefit rainforest wildlife

    The value of a modern logging technique has been revealed for maintaining biodiversity in tropical forests that are used for timber production. The most comprehensive study of Reduced-Impact Logging (RIL) to date has been completed, surveying wildlife communities over a five-year period before and after timber harvesting.

  • Submarine data used to investigate turbulence beneath Arctic ice

    Using recently released Royal Navy submarine data, researchers have investigated the nature of turbulence in the ocean beneath the Arctic sea-ice. Recent decreases in Arctic sea ice may have a big impact on the circulation, chemistry and biology of the Arctic Ocean, due to ice-free waters becoming more turbulent. By revealing more about how these turbulent motions distribute energy within the ocean, the findings from this study provide information important for accurate predictions of the future of the Arctic Ocean.

  • Embrace unknowns, opt for flexibility in environmental policies, experts say

    We make hundreds, possibly thousands, of decisions each day without having full knowledge of what will happen next. Life is unpredictable, and we move forward the best we can despite not knowing every detail. Likewise, two professors argue that ecosystem managers must learn to make decisions based on an uncertain future.

  • World's challenges demand science changes -- and fast, experts say

    The world has little use -- and precious little time -- for detached experts. A group of scientists -- each of them experts -- makes a compelling case that the growing global challenges has rendered sharply segregated expertise obsolete. Disciplinary approaches to crises like air pollution, climate change, food insecurity, and energy and water shortages, are not only ineffective, but also making many of these crises worse.

  • Lake Tahoe research provides new insights on global change

    A study on how natural and human-made sources of nitrogen are recycled through the Lake Tahoe ecosystem provides new information on how global change may affect the iconic blue lake.

  • First direct observation of carbon dioxide's increasing greenhouse effect at Earth's surface

    Scientists have observed an increase in carbon dioxide's greenhouse effect at Earth's surface for the first time. They measured atmospheric carbon dioxide's increasing capacity to absorb thermal radiation emitted from Earth's surface over an 11-year period at two locations in North America. They attributed this upward trend to rising carbon dioxide levels from fossil fuel emissions.

  • Crocodiles rocked pre-Amazonian Peru: Seven crocodile species found in single 13-million-year-old bone bed

    Thirteen million years ago, as many as seven different species of crocodiles hunted in the swampy waters of what is now northeastern Peru, new research shows. This hyperdiverse assemblage, revealed through more than a decade of work in Amazon bone beds, contains the largest number of crocodile species co-existing in one place at any time in Earth's history, likely due to a food source that forms a small part of modern crocodile diets: mollusks.

  • Yellowstone: Geysers erupt periodically because they have loops in their plumbing

    Volcanologists threaded sensors and cameras into the superheated water of geysers in Chile and Yellowstone, and have come up with an explanation for why geysers erupt periodically. They've even built a laboratory geyser that erupts every 20 minutes to demonstrate that loops and bends in the underground plumbing trap steam bubbles that slowly leak out, heating the water above until it suddenly boils from the top down.

  • Climate-change clues from turtles of tropical Wyoming

    Tropical turtle fossils discovered in Wyoming reveal that when Earth got warmer, prehistoric turtles headed north. But if today's turtles try the same technique to cope with warming habitats, they might run into trouble.

  • Intelligent tree inventory detector

    Planning and managing vegetation in urban area is complex, yet it can be seamlessly done using computerized tree inventory and Geographic Information System (GIS).

  • Massive amounts of Saharan dust fertilize the Amazon rainforest

    Every year, millions of tons of nutrient-rich Saharan dust cross the Atlantic Ocean, bringing vital phosphorus and other fertilizers to depleted Amazon soils. For the first time, scientists have an accurate estimate of how much phosphorus makes this trans-Atlantic journey.

  • Ocean acidification slows algae growth in the southern ocean

    Scientists demonstrate for the first time that ocean acidification could have negative impacts on diatoms in the Southern Ocean. In laboratory tests they were able to observe that under changing light conditions, diatoms grow more slowly in acidic water.

  • Small predator diversity an important part of a healthy ecosystem

    Biodiversity, including small predators such as dragonflies and other aquatic bugs that attack and consume parasites, may improve the health of amphibians, according to a team of researchers. Amphibians have experienced marked declines in the wild around the world in recent decades, the team added.

  • La Niña-like conditions associated with 2,500-year-long shutdown of coral reef growth

    La Niña-like conditions in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Panamá were closely associated with an abrupt shutdown in coral reef growth that lasted 2,500 years, scientists have found. The study suggests that future changes in climate similar to those in the study could cause coral reefs to collapse in the future.

  • Scientists bring oxygen back to dead fjord

    More and more of the world's waters are seriously lacking oxygen. Could we use pumps to bring oxygen and thus higher life back into these waters? A Danish/Swedish research team says yes. They installed pumps in a Swedish fjord that showed a strong oxygen deficit and now they report that all the right oxygen-loving organisms have come back to the fjord.

  • Recycling of nutrients may be the key to saving Earth

    Leakages of nutrients necessary for food production – especially nitrogen and phosphorus – cause severe eutrophication to the Earth's aquatic ecosystems and promote climate change. However, this threat also hides an opportunity. An enhancement of the nutrient economy creates new business models and enables developing recycling technology into an export.

  • Does dark matter cause mass extinctions and geologic upheavals?

    New research concludes that Earth's infrequent but predictable path around and through our Galaxy's disc may have a direct and significant effect on geological and biological phenomena occurring on Earth. Scientists conclude that movement through dark matter may perturb the orbits of comets and lead to additional heating in the Earth's core, both of which could be connected with mass extinction events.