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Earth in the News

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

  • Erratic as normal: Arctic sea ice loss expected to be bumpy in the short term

    Arctic sea ice extent plunged precipitously from 2001 to 2007, then barely budged between 2007 and 2013. Even in a warming world, researchers should expect such unusual periods of no change -- and rapid change -- at the world's northern reaches, according to a new paper.

  • Smothered oceans: Extreme oxygen loss in oceans accompanied past global climate change

    From the subarctic Pacific to the Chilean margins, extreme oxygen loss is stretching from the upper ocean to about 3,000 meters deep. In some oceanic regions, such loss occurred within 100 years or less, according to a new study.

  • Missing link in metal physics explains Earth's magnetic field

    Earth's magnetic field shields the life on our planet's surface from cosmic rays. It is generated by turbulent motions of liquid iron in Earth's core. Iron is a metal, which means it can easily conduct a flow of electrons. New findings show that a missing piece of the traditional theory explaining why metals become less conductive when they are heated was needed to complete the puzzle of this field-generating process.

  • Nordic marine scientists: Showcasing growing pressure on oceans?

    A group of 13 scientists argue that the Nordic countries are in a unique position to showcase how to handle the growing pressure on the oceans. However, this relies on a collective ability to regard change as connected.

  • Slope on ocean surface lowers sea level in Europe

    A ‘slope’ on the ocean surface in the Strait of Gibraltar is lowering the sea level in Europe by 7cm, researchers have discovered. This research will help to more accurately predict future sea levels by providing a more complete understanding of the factors that control it.

  • The origin of life: Labyrinths as crucibles of life

    Water-filled micropores in hot rock may have acted as the nurseries in which life on Earth began. A team has now shown that temperature gradients in pore systems promote the cyclical replication and emergence of nucleic acids.

  • Winters in Siberian permafrost regions have warmed since millenia

    For the first time, researchers have successfully decoded climate data from old permafrost ground ice and reconstructed the development of winter temperatures in Russia's Lena River Delta. Their conclusions: over the past 7,000 years, winter temperatures in the Siberian permafrost regions have gradually risen.

  • Climate models disagree on why temperature 'wiggles' occur

    Most climate models likely underestimate the degree of decade-to-decade variability occurring in mean surface temperatures as Earth's atmosphere warms. They also provide inconsistent explanations of why these wiggles occur in the first place, a new study finds. These inconsistencies may undermine the models' reliability for projecting the short-term pace and extent of future warming, and indicate that we shouldn't over-interpret recent temperature trends. The study analyzed 34 models used in the most recent IPCC assessment report.

  • 3-D view of Greenland Ice Sheet opens window on ice history

    Scientists using ice-penetrating radar have created 3-D maps of the age of the ice within the Greenland Ice Sheet. The new maps will aid future research to understand the impact of climate change on the ice sheet. The Greenland Ice Sheet is the second largest mass of ice on Earth, containing enough water to raise ocean levels by about 20 feet.

  • Ocean could hold key to predicting recurring extreme winters

    New reserch may help to predict extreme winters across Europe by identifying the set of environmental conditions that are associated with pairs of severe winters across consecutive years. Pairs of extreme winters in Europe have been found to coincide with high pressure over the Arctic and a band of low pressure immediately to the south, a set of atmospheric conditions known as a negative Arctic Oscillation, scientists have observed.

  • Arctic ice cap slides into the ocean

    Satellite images have revealed that a remote Arctic ice cap has thinned by more than 50 metres since 2012 -- about one sixth of its original thickness -- and that it is now flowing 25 times faster. The findings show that over the last two decades, ice loss from the south-east region of Austfonna, located in the Svalbard archipelago, has increased significantly. In this time, ice flow has accelerated to speeds of several kilometres per year, and ice thinning has spread more than 50km inland -- to within 10km of the summit.

  • New research re-creates planet formation, super-Earths and giant planets in the laboratory

    New laser-driven compression experiments reproduce the conditions deep inside exotic super-Earths and giant planet cores, and the conditions during the violent birth of Earth-like planets, documenting the material properties that determined planets' formation and evolution processes.

  • Doubt cast on global firestorm generated by dino-killing asteroid

    Pioneering new research has debunked the theory that the asteroid that is thought to have led to the extinction of dinosaurs also caused vast global firestorms that ravaged planet Earth. Scientists recreated the immense energy released from an extra-terrestrial collision with Earth that occurred around the time that dinosaurs became extinct. They found that the intense but short-lived heat near the impact site could not have ignited live plants, challenging the idea that the impact led to global firestorms.

  • Fossils survive volcanic eruption to tell us about the origin of the Canary Islands

    The most recent eruption on the Canary Islands -- at El Hierro in 2011 -- produced spectacularly enigmatic white "floating rocks" that originated from the layers of oceanic sedimentary rock underneath the island. An international team of researchers used microscopic fossils found in the rocks to shed new light on the long-standing puzzle about the origin of the Canary Islands. Despite being violently transported through the volcano, some of the rocks produced by the El Hierro eruption contain microscopic fossils of delicate single-celled marine organisms, making the survival of these fossils all the more extraordinary.

  • Two lakes beneath the ice in Greenland, gone within weeks

    Researchers discovered craters left behind when two sub-glacial lakes in Greenland drained away -- an indication that the natural plumbing system beneath the ice sheet is overflowing with meltwater. One lake once held billions of gallons of water and emptied to form a mile-wide crater in just a few weeks. The other lake has filled and emptied twice in the last two years.

  • Death of a dynamo: A hard drive from space

    Hidden magnetic messages contained within ancient meteorites are providing a unique window into the processes that shaped our solar system, and may give a sneak preview of the fate of the Earth's core as it continues to freeze.

  • Researchers introduce macrosystems approach to study stream ecology

    The Stream Biome Gradient Concept is a way to compare streams in different climates and different continents. The concept can improve how researchers study streams worldwide. "This model will help us understand how to regulate and conserve streams and protect water quality," the concept's developer said. "It's important to think in broad terms and in the context that people, plants and animals interact with streams. Understanding biodiversity is crucial."

  • Sequestration on shaky ground: Natural impediment to long-term sequestration of carbon dioxide

    Carbon sequestration promises to address greenhouse-gas emissions by capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and injecting it deep below the Earth's surface, where it would permanently solidify into rock. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that current carbon-sequestration technologies may eliminate up to 90 percent of carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants. While such technologies may successfully remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, researchers have now found that once injected into the ground, less carbon dioxide is converted to rock than previously imagined.

  • Greenland Ice: The warmer it gets the faster it melts

    Melting of glacial ice will probably raise sea level around the globe, but how fast this melting will happen is uncertain. In the case of the Greenland Ice Sheet, the more temperatures increase, the faster the ice will melt, according to computer model experiments by geoscientists.

  • Vegetation can help prevent soil erosion due to wind

    Dust from soil erosion due to wind can affect human health, traffic, and, on a larger scale, climate. Investigators compared different models that quantify how the wind energy spreads over an herbaceous surface using data from the Sahel region of Africa, where estimates of dust emissions remain uncertain.