Earth in the News

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

  • Accelerated glacier melting in West Antarctica documented

    Two new studies have found the fastest ongoing rates of glacier retreat ever observed in West Antarctica and offer an unprecedented look at ice melting on the floating undersides of glaciers. The results highlight how the interaction between ocean conditions and the bedrock beneath a glacier can influence the frozen mass, helping scientists better predict future Antarctica ice loss and global sea level rise.

  • Atom-by-atom growth chart for shells helps decode past climate

    For the first time scientists can see how the shells of tiny marine organisms grow atom-by-atom, a new study reports. The advance provides new insights into the mechanisms of biomineralization and will improve our understanding of environmental change in Earth's past.

  • Amazon rainstorms transport atmospheric particles for cloud formation

    Tracking atmospheric particles in a pristine environment will help scientists understand the impact of industrial aerosols on climate, say researchers at conclusion of a study on Amazonian rainstorms.

  • What the ancient carbon dioxide record may mean for future climate change

    Scientists have reconstructed the ancient atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) record from about 300 million years ago. Their study reveals previously unknown fluctuations of atmospheric CO2 at levels projected for current century, they say. It also highlights the potential impact the loss of tropical forests can have on climate.

  • New bacteria groups, and stunning diversity, discovered underground

    One of the most detailed genomic studies of any ecosystem to date has revealed an underground world of stunning microbial diversity, and added dozens of new branches to the tree of life. The bacterial bonanza comes from scientists who reconstructed the genomes of more than 2,500 microbes from sediment and groundwater samples collected at an aquifer in Colorado.

  • Mt. Aso could erupt much sooner, scientists warn

    Damage from the 2016 Kumamoto earthquake could hasten Mt. Aso's eruption, volcanologists warn. In a new paper, scientists report new faults in the vicinity of Mt. Aso's magma chamber and volcanic cones, which they say could alter spatial and mechanical properties of Aso volcano.

  • Temperature, not predatory pressures, drives plankton abundance

    Plankton blooms in spring are largely driven by temperature-induced increases in cell division, a new study reveals.

  • Exploring vast 'submerged America,' marine scientists discover 500 bubbling methane vents

    Five hundred vents newly discovered off the US West Coast, each bubbling methane from Earth's belly, top a long list of revelations about "submerged America" being celebrated by leading marine explorers. The discoveries double to about 1,000 the number of such vents now known to exist along the continental margins of the USA. This fizzing methane is a powerful greenhouse gas if it escapes into the atmosphere; a clean burning fuel if safely captured.

  • Scientists find link between tropical storms, decline of river deltas

    A change in the patterns of tropical storms is threatening the future of the Mekong River delta in Vietnam, research shows, indicating a similar risk to other deltas around the world.

  • Magnetic oceans and electric Earth

    Oceans might not be thought of as magnetic, but they make a tiny contribution to our planet's protective magnetic shield. Remarkably, ESA's Swarm satellites have not only measured this extremely faint field, but have also led to new discoveries about the electrical nature of inner Earth.

  • Technique could lower cost of making bioplastics, biofuel

    The potential for at least partly replacing oil with cellulose as a renewable source of energy and materials has just improved, report researchers.

  • Drought-tolerant species thrive despite returning rains in the Sahel

    Following the devastating droughts in the 70s and 80s in the Sahel region south of the Sahara desert, vegetation has now recovered. What surprised the researchers is that although it is now raining more and has become greener, it is particularly the more drought resistant species that thrive instead of the tree and shrub vegetation that has long been characteristic of the area. The conclusion is that not only rain but also agriculture and human utilization of trees, bushes and land affect the plants recovering.

  • Caribbean heritage under threat

    Loss of cultural heritage first brings to mind the destruction in the Middle East. But in the Caribbean it is mainly natural processes such as coastal erosion and human interventions driven by economics that are damaging the local natural and cultural heritage, say experts.

  • Vast carbon residue of ocean life

    The oceans hold a vast reservoir -- 700 billion tons -- of carbon, dissolved in seawater as organic matter, often surviving for thousands of years after being produced by ocean life. Yet, little is known about how it is produced, or how it's being impacted by the many changes happening in the ocean.

  • New satellite image database maps the dynamics of human presence on Earth

    Built-up areas on the Earth have increased by 2.5 times since 1975. And yet, today 7.3 billion people live and work in only 7.6% of the global land mass. Nine out of the ten most populated urban centres are in Asia, while five out of the ten largest urban centres are in the United States. These are some of the numbers calculated by a new global database which tracks human presence on Earth.

  • 'Robomussels' used to monitor climate change

    Tiny robots have been helping researchers study how cli­mate change affects bio­di­ver­sity. These “robo­mus­sels” have the shape, size, and color of actual mus­sels, with minia­ture built-??in sen­sors that track tem­per­a­tures inside the mussel beds.

  • Making of a desert: Central Asia over the ages

    The first large-scale map of rainfall declines revealed by signatures in ancient soil could help researchers better understand profound regional and global climate transformation.

  • Earthquake series cause uplift variations at continental margins

    A new mechanism may explain how great earthquakes with magnitudes larger than M7 are linked to coastal uplift in many regions worldwide. This has important implications for the seismic hazard and the tsunami risk along the shores of many countries. The idea is that series of severe earthquakes within a geologically short period of time cause the rising of the land where one tectonic plate slips beneath another slab of the Earth's crust in a process called subduction.

  • Greenland ice is melting 7 percent faster than previously thought

    The same hotspot in Earth's mantle that feeds Iceland's active volcanoes has been playing a trick on the scientists who are trying to measure how much ice is melting on nearby Greenland. According to a new study, the hotspot softened the mantle rock beneath Greenland in a way that ultimately distorted their calculations for ice loss in the Greenland ice sheet. This caused them to underestimate the melting by about 20 gigatons (20 billion metric tons) per year.

  • Wind patterns in lowest layers of supercell storms key to predicting tornadoes

    Wind patterns in the lowest 500 meters of the atmosphere near supercell thunderstorms can help predict whether that storm will generate a tornado, report investigators.