Earth in the News

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

  • Rock layers preserve record of ancient sea tides near Blythe, California

    Five million years ago, the Colorado River met the Gulf of California near the present-day desert town of Blythe, California. The evidence, say geologists, is in the sedimentary rocks exposed at the edges of the valley where the river flows today.

  • Mixed results: 2016 Ocean Health Index shows no major declines, and few real improvements

    The results are in, and while the world's oceans show no significant decline over the past year, their condition should not be mistaken as a clean bill of health.

  • Will Earth still exist 5 billion years from now?

    What will happen to Earth when, in a few billion years' time, the sun is a hundred times bigger than it is today? Using the most powerful radio telescope in the world, an international team of astronomers has set out to look for answers in the star L2 Puppis. Five billion years ago, this star was very similar to the sun as it is today.

  • Most of Greenland ice melted to bedrock in recent geologic past, says study

    Scientists have found evidence in a chunk of bedrock drilled from nearly two miles below the summit of the Greenland ice sheet that the sheet nearly disappeared for an extended time in the last million years or so. The finding casts doubt on assumptions that Greenland has been relatively stable during the recent geological past, and implies that global warming could tip it into decline more precipitously than previously thought.

  • Greenland on thin ice?

    First-of-their-kind studies provide new insight into the deep history of the Greenland Ice Sheet, looking back millions of years farther than previous techniques allowed. However, the two studies present some strongly contrasting evidence about how Greenland's ice sheet may have responded to past climate change.

  • Hot hydrogen atoms discovered in Earth's upper atmosphere

    Scientists have discovered the existence of hot atomic hydrogen (H) atoms in an upper layer of Earth's atmosphere known as the thermosphere. This finding significantly changes current understanding of the H distribution and its interaction with other atmospheric constituents.

  • Sea ice hit record lows in November

    Unusually high air temperatures and a warm ocean have led to a record low Arctic sea ice extent for November, according to scientists. In the Southern Hemisphere, Antarctic sea ice extent also hit a record low for the month, caused by moderately warm temperatures and a rapid shift in circumpolar winds.

  • Predicting unpredictability: Information theory offers new way to read ice cores

    A new technique based in information theory promises to improve researchers' ability to interpret ice core samples and our understanding of Earth's climate history.

  • Scientists shed light on the climate-changing desert dust fertilizing our oceans

    New research has pinpointed how much phosphate 'fertilizer' is released from dust depending on atmospheric acid levels. The way in which human-made acids in the atmosphere interact with this dust that nourishes our oceans has now been quantified by scientists for the first time.

  • During last warming period, Antarctica heated up two to three times more than planet average

    A new study of warming after the last ice age 20,000 years ago confirms climate models that predict an amplification of warming at the poles. By 15,000 years ago, the Antarctic had warmed about 11 degrees Celsius, almost 3 times the average global warming (4 degrees Celsius). The calculations, based on temperature measurements down a 3.4-kilometer-deep borehole, prove that climate models do a good job of estimating past climatic conditions and, very likely, future changes.

  • Sea spray studied to improve hurricane intensity forecasting

    A research team is studying sea spray to help improve forecasting of hurricanes and tropical cyclones. In a recent study, the scientists found that in high winds conditions the amount of large sea spray droplets (over 0.5 milimeters in diameter) generated is as much as 1000 times more than previously thought.

  • Longest-living animal gives up ocean climate secrets

    A study of the longest-living animal on Earth, the quahog clam, has provided researchers with an unprecedented insight into the history of the oceans.

  • More frequent, more intense and longer-lasting storms cause heavier spring rain in central US

    Intense storms have become more frequent and longer-lasting in the Great Plains and Midwest in the last 35 years. What has fueled these storms? The temperature difference between the Southern Great Plains and the Atlantic Ocean produces winds that carry moisture from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Plains, according to a recent study.

  • Increasing tornado outbreaks: Is climate change responsible?

    In a new study, researchers looked at increasing trends in the severity of tornado outbreaks where they measured severity by the number of tornadoes per outbreak. They found that these trends are increasing fastest for the most extreme outbreaks. While they saw changes in meteorological quantities that are consistent with these upward trends, the meteorological trends were not the ones expected under climate change.

  • New study describes 200 million years of geological evolution

    200 million years of geological evolution of a fault in Earth’s crust has recently been dated. These new findings may be used to shed light on poorly understood pathways for methane release from the heart of our planet.

  • Physics, photosynthesis and solar cells

    Researchers have combined quantum physics and photosynthesis to make discovery that could lead to highly efficient, green solar cells, outlines a new report.

  • Cloud in a box: Mixing aerosols and turbulence

    Cleaner clouds also have a much wider variability in droplet size, new research indicates. And the way those droplets form could have serious implications for weather and climate change.

  • 6,000 years ago the Sahara Desert was tropical, so what happened?

    As little as 6,000 years ago, the vast Sahara Desert was covered in grassland that received plenty of rainfall, but shifts in the world's weather patterns abruptly transformed the vegetated region into some of the driest land on Earth. Now a researcher is trying to uncover the clues responsible for this enormous climate transformation -- and the findings could lead to better rainfall predictions worldwide.

  • Permafrost loss changes Yukon River chemistry with global implications

    Permafrost loss due to a rapidly warming Alaska is leading to significant changes in the freshwater chemistry and hydrology of Alaska's Yukon River Basin with potential global climate implications, report scientists.

  • Earth's 'technosphere' now weighs 30 trillion tons

    The planet's technosphere now weighs some 30 trillion tons -- a mass of more than 50 kilos for every square meter of the Earth's surface, report investigators. Additionally, the numbers of technofossil 'species' now outnumber numbers of biotic species on planet Earth. The definition of the term technosphere includes physical human-made structures such as houses, factories, smartphones, computers and landfill.