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Earth in the News

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

  • Trade winds ventilate the tropical oceans: Explanation for increasing oxygen deficiency

    Long-term observations indicate that the oxygen minimum zones in the tropical oceans have expanded in recent decades. The reason is still unknown. Now scientists have found an explanation with the help of model simulations: A natural fluctuation of the trade winds.

  • New species found in the deepest trench on Earth

    Researchers have returned from the first detailed study of the Mariana Trench aboard Schmidt Ocean Institute's research vessel Falkor. The expedition set many new records, including the deepest rock samples ever collected and the discovery of new fish species at the greatest depths ever recorded.

  • 'Tipping points' for sea level rise-related flooding determined

    By 2050, a majority of US coastal areas are likely to be threatened by 30 or more days of flooding each year due to dramatically accelerating impacts from sea level rise, according to a new study.

  • New, tighter timeline confirms ancient volcanism aligned with dinosaurs' extinction

    A definitive geological timeline shows that a series of massive volcanic explosions 66 million years ago played a role in the extinction event that claimed Earth's non-avian dinosaurs, and challenges the dominant theory that a meteorite impact was the sole cause of the extinction.

  • Origin of long-standing space mystery revealed: Origin of the 'theta aurora'

    Scientists have solved a long-standing space mystery -- the origin of the 'theta aurora'. Auroras are the most visible manifestation of the Sun's effect on Earth. They are seen as colorful displays in the night sky, known as the Northern or Southern Lights. They are caused by the solar wind, a stream of plasma -- electrically charged atomic particles -- carrying its own magnetic field, interacting with the earth's magnetic field. Normally, the main region for this impressive display is the 'auroral oval', which lies at around 65-70 degrees north or south of the equator, encircling the polar caps. However, auroras can occur at even higher latitudes. One type is known as a 'theta aurora' because seen from above it looks like the Greek letter theta -- an oval with a line crossing through the center.

  • 550-million-year-old fossils provide new clues about fossil formation

    A new study is challenging accepted ideas about how ancient soft-bodied organisms become part of the fossil record. Findings suggest that bacteria involved in the decay of those organisms play an active role in how fossils are formed -- often in a matter of just a few tens to hundreds of years. Understanding the relationship between decay and fossilization will inform future study and help researchers interpret fossils in a new way.

  • Pilot plant for removal of extreme gas charges from deep waters

    Being part of the mining area Herrerias, Andalusia, deep waters of Pit Lake Guadiana show extremely high concentration of dissolved carbon dioxide. In the case of a spontaneous ebullition, human beings close-by would be jeopardized. To demonstrate the danger and the possible solution, scientists constructed a pilot plant for degassing.

  • The Greenland Ice Sheet: Now in HD

    The highest-resolution maps of the Greenland Ice Sheet are debuting. Starting with Worldview satellite imagery, The maps are already revealing previously unknown features on the ice sheet.

  • Pilot plant for removal of extreme gas charges from deep waters installed

    Being part of the mining area Herrerias in Andalusia, deep waters of Pit Lake Guadiana show extremely high concentration of dissolved carbon dioxide. In the case of a spontaneous ebullition, human beings close-by would be jeopardized. To demonstrate the danger and the possible solution, scientists have constructed a pilot plant for degassing. A fountain pulls deep water through a pipe to the surface, where the gas can escape from the water. The buoyancy produced by the bubbles provides the energy required for driving the flow.

  • Clearing tropical rainforests distorts Earth's wind and water systems, packs climate wallop beyond carbon

    A new study released today presents powerful evidence that clearing trees not only spews carbon into the atmosphere, but also triggers major shifts in rainfall and increased temperatures worldwide that are just as potent as those caused by current carbon pollution. Further, the study finds that future agricultural productivity across the globe is at risk from deforestation-induced warming and altered rainfall patterns.

  • Satellites measure increase of Sun's energy absorbed in the Arctic

    NASA satellite instruments have observed a marked increase in solar radiation absorbed in the Arctic since the year 2000 -- a trend that aligns with the steady decrease in Arctic sea ice during the same period.

  • Colorado River Delta greener after engineered pulse of water

    The engineered spring flood that brought water to previously dry reaches of the lower Colorado River and its delta resulted in greener vegetation, the germination of new vegetation along the river and a temporary rise in the water table, according to new results from the binational team of scientists studying the water's effects.

  • Ancient, hydrogen-rich waters deep underground around the world: Waters could support isolated life

    A team of scientists has mapped the location of hydrogen-rich waters found trapped kilometers beneath Earth's surface in rock fractures in Canada, South Africa and Scandinavia. Common in Precambrian Shield rocks -- the oldest rocks on Earth -- the ancient waters have a chemistry similar to that found near deep sea vents, suggesting these waters can support microbes living in isolation from the surface.

  • Researchers' recipe: Cook farm waste into energy

    Researchers are studying how to make biofuels from farm waste, especially 'wet' waste, such as corn husks, tomato vines and manure, that is typically difficult to use. They have developed a fairly simple procedure, pressure cooking, to transport waste and produce energy from it. Cooking farm waste yields compact, easily transportable material that will not degrade and can be used in energy-producing plants, they say.

  • Ancient Earth may have made its own water: Rock circulating in mantle feeds world's oceans even today, evidence suggests

    In a finding that meshes well with recent discoveries from the Rosetta mission, researchers have discovered a geochemical pathway by which Earth makes it own water through plate tectonics. This finding extends the planet's water cycle to billions of years -- and suggests that enough water is buried in the deep earth right now to fill the Pacific Ocean.

  • North Atlantic signaled Ice Age thaw 1,000 years before it happened, reveals new research

    The Atlantic Ocean at mid-depths may have given out early warning signals – 1,000 years in advance - that the last Ice Age was going to end, scientists report.

  • Abundance of microplastics in the world's deep seas

    Around four billion minute fibers could be littering each square kilometer of some of the world's deep seas, according to a new study.

  • NASA data underscore severity of California drought

    It will take about 11 trillion gallons of water (42 cubic kilometers) -- around 1.5 times the maximum volume of the largest U.S. reservoir -- to recover from California's continuing drought, according to a new analysis of NASA satellite data.

  • Cost of cloud brightening for cooler planet revealed

    Scientists have identified the most energy-efficient way to make clouds more reflective to the sun in a bid to combat climate change. Marine Cloud Brightening is a reversible geoengineering method proposed to mitigate rising global temperatures. It relies on propelling a fine mist of salt particles high into the atmosphere to increase the albedo of clouds -- the amount of sunlight they reflect back into space.

  • Switching to vehicles powered by electricity from renewables could save lives

    Driving vehicles that use electricity from renewable energy instead of gasoline could reduce the resulting deaths due to air pollution by 70 percent. This finding comes from a new life cycle analysis of conventional and alternative vehicles and their air pollution-related public health impacts. The study also shows that switching to vehicles powered by electricity made using natural gas yields large health benefits.