Earth Science News -- ScienceDaily
Earth science research and news. Read science articles on air quality, geology, meteorology, oceanography, paleontology and science and the environment.
04/26/2017 08:37 PM
Changes that lightning inspires in rock quantified
New research has identified the minimum temperature of a bolt of lightning as it strikes rock. The study discovered that, based on the crystalline material in the sample, the minimum temperature at which the fulgurite formed was roughly 1,700 degrees Celsius.
04/26/2017 06:10 PM
Paleontologists identify new 507-million-year-old sea creature with can opener-like pincers
Paleontologists have uncovered a new fossil species that sheds light on the origin of mandibulates, the most abundant and diverse group of organisms on Earth, to which belong familiar animals such as flies, ants, crayfish and centipedes. Named Tokummia katalepsis by the researchers, the creature documents for the first time the anatomy of early mandibulates, a sub-group of arthropods with specialized appendages known as mandibles, used to grasp, crush and cut their food.
04/25/2017 02:23 PM
Mystery of the missing mercury at the Great Salt Lake
Around 2010, the deep waters of Utah's Great Salt Lake contained high levels of toxic methylmercury. Mercury measurements in waterfowl surrounding the lake led to a rare human consumption advisory for ducks. But by 2015, 90 percent of the deep mercury was gone.
04/25/2017 02:23 PM
Early organic carbon got deep burial in mantle
Petrologists who recreated hot, high-pressure conditions from 60 miles below Earth's surface have found a new clue about a crucial event in the planet's deep past.
04/25/2017 02:22 PM
Predicting the movement, impacts of microplastic pollution
Microplastics, which are particles measuring less than 5 mm, are of increasing concern. They not only become more relevant as other plastic marine litter breaks down into tiny particles, they also interact with species in a range of marine habitats. A new study takes a look at how global climate change and the impact of changing ocean circulation affects the distribution of marine microplastic litter.
04/24/2017 08:38 PM
Global warming making oceans more toxic
Climate change is predicted to cause a series of maladies for world oceans including heating up, acidification, and the loss of oxygen. A newly published study demonstrates that one ocean consequence of climate change that has already occurred is the spread and intensification of toxic algae.
04/22/2017 02:08 AM
Forces that threaten sensitive coastlines
Wind-driven expansion of marsh ponds on the Mississippi River Delta is a significant factor in the loss of crucial land in the Delta region, according to new research. The study found that 17 percent of land loss in the area resulted from pond expansion, much of it caused by waves that eroded away the edges of the pond.
04/20/2017 06:23 PM
New research unlocks forests' potential in climate change mitigation
For the first time, scientists have created a global map measuring the cooling effect forests generate by regulating the exchange of water and energy between the Earth's surface and the atmosphere. The information offers a valuable new tool in efforts to mitigate climate change, according to a new article.
04/20/2017 04:38 PM
The formation of gold deposits in South Africa
The Witwatersrand basin in South Africa hosts the largest known gold repository on Earth -- but how was it formed? Scientists were able to figure out how parts of the Earth's largest gold deposits formed about three billion years ago. Crude oil and hot hydrothermal fluids played a major role.
04/19/2017 06:17 PM
Water is streaming across Antarctica
In the first such continent-wide survey, scientists have found extensive drainages of meltwater flowing over parts of Antarctica's ice during the brief summer.
04/19/2017 05:20 PM
Hazardous asteroid effects ranked from least to most destructive
If an asteroid struck Earth, which of its effects -- scorching heat, flying debris, towering tsunamis -- would claim the most lives? A new study has the answer: violent winds and shock waves are the most dangerous effects produced by Earth-impacting asteroids.
04/19/2017 04:24 PM
Grand challenges to better prepare for volcanic eruptions
Despite broad understanding of volcanoes, our ability to predict the timing, duration, type, size, and consequences of volcanic eruptions is limited, says a new report. To improve eruption forecasting and warnings to save lives, the report identifies research priorities for better monitoring of volcanic eruptions and three grand challenges facing the volcano science community.
04/19/2017 03:08 PM
Under-studied boreal habitat key for North America's ducks
Knowing where migrating birds came from and where they're headed is essential for their conservation and management. A new study tackles this challenge using stable isotope ratios, which reflect where birds were living while growing their feathers, and reveals that the northern reaches of Canada may have underappreciated importance for North America's waterfowl.
04/18/2017 09:18 PM
How campuses can measure their nitrogen footprints
A new groundbreaking initiative helps researchers to measure and reduce the nitrogen footprint left behind by campus activities like food waste and energy consumption. The publication outlines research aiming to reduce emissions of reactive nitrogen and prevent negative impacts on such things as water quality, air pollution, and climate change.
04/17/2017 04:48 PM
Retreating Yukon glacier caused a river to disappear
A postmortem of the first known case of 'river piracy' in modern times outlines how a retreating glacier in the Yukon diverted water from one river to another, leading to many downstream effects.
04/13/2017 07:03 PM
Methane seeps in the Canadian high Arctic
Cretaceous climate warming led to a significant methane release from the seafloor, indicating potential for similar destabilization of gas hydrates under modern global warming. A field campaign on the remote Ellef Ringnes Island, Canadian High Arctic, discovered an astounding number of methane seep mounds in Cretaceous age sediments.
04/13/2017 06:06 PM
With magnetic map, young eels catch a 'free ride' to Europe
Each year, young European eels make their way from breeding grounds in the Sargasso Sea to coastal and freshwater habitats from North Africa to Scandinavia, where they live for several years before returning to the Sargasso Sea to spawn and then die, beginning the cycle again. Now, researchers have gained new insight into how the young eels make such a remarkable journey.
04/13/2017 06:06 PM
Battery prototype powered by atmospheric nitrogen
As the most abundant gas in Earth's atmosphere, nitrogen has been an attractive option as a source of renewable energy. But nitrogen gas doesn't break apart under normal conditions, presenting a challenge to scientists who want to transfer the chemical energy of its triple bond into electricity. Researchers present one approach to capturing atmospheric nitrogen that can be used in a battery.
04/13/2017 01:48 PM
New study emphasizes the relative scarcity of lake water
What is the volume of water in lakes on Earth? Using a mathematical analysis, researchers now suggest that the mean depth of lakes is 30 per cent lower than previously estimated. Shallower lakes implies less fresh water and has consequences for our understanding of climate change and the carbon cycle.
04/13/2017 01:46 PM
Next 10 years critical for achieving climate change goals
In order to have a good chance of meeting the limits set by the Paris Agreement, it will be necessary to both reduce greenhouse gas emissions while preserving carbon sinks, with net emissions peaking in the next 10 years, according to a new study.
04/13/2017 01:45 PM
Nearly two billion people depend on imported food
Researchers show empirically: when population pressure increases, food is imported. The big issue, say authors of a new report, is that people may not even be aware that they have chosen dependency on imports over further investment in local production or curbing demand.
04/12/2017 03:59 PM
Polar glaciers may be home to previously undiscovered carbon cycle
Microbes in streams flowing on the surface of glaciers in the Arctic and Antarctic may represent a previously underestimated source of organic material and be part of an as yet undiscovered 'dynamic local carbon cycle,' according to a new paper.
04/10/2017 08:47 PM
Three quarters of deep-sea animals make their own light
In the first quantitative analysis of deep-sea bioluminescence, researchers show that three quarters of the animals in Monterey Bay from the surface down to 4,000 meters deep can produce their own light.
04/10/2017 05:40 PM
Huge permafrost thaw can be limited by ambitious climate targets
Nearly 4 million square kilometers of frozen soil -- an area larger than India -- could be lost for every additional degree of global warming experienced, warn scientists. Global warming will thaw about 20% more permafrost than previously thought, they add – potentially releasing significant amounts of greenhouse gases into the Earth’s atmosphere. But these investigators also suggest that the huge permafrost losses could be averted if ambitious global climate targets are met.
04/10/2017 02:56 PM
First oceans may have been acidic
New research has looked to the distant past -- all the way back to Earth's earliest oceans. A newly developed model suggests that the early oceans, right around the time that life originated, were somewhat acidic, and that they gradually became alkaline.
04/07/2017 07:33 PM
'Nesting doll' minerals offer clues to Earth's mantle dynamics
Recovered minerals that originated in the deep mantle can give scientists a rare glimpse into the dynamic processes occurring deep inside of the Earth and into the history of the planet's mantle layer. A team of scientists has discovered that a rare sample of the mineral majorite originated at least 235 miles below Earth's surface.
04/07/2017 02:18 PM
Scientists uncover isotopic fingerprint of nitrous oxide emissions from Arctic tundra
For the first time, scientists present the isotopic fingerprint of nitrous oxide produced by Arctic soils. The finding opens new avenues for predicting future trends in atmospheric nitrous oxide as well as in identifying climate change mitigation actions in the Arctic, a region that is particularly sensitive to climate change.
04/06/2017 08:16 PM
Putting a price tag on biodiversity
A team of economists and ecologists has developed one of the first models to assign a dollar value to the loss or gain of species in an ecosystem. This new work offers an economic argument for preserving biodiversity.
04/06/2017 07:39 PM
Ancient Earth's fingerprints in young volcanic rocks
Earth's mantle is made of solid rock that nonetheless circulates slowly over millions of years. Some geologists assume that this slow circulation would have wiped away any geochemical traces of Earth's early history long ago. But a new study of volcanic rocks that recently erupted from volcanoes in Hawaii and Samoa reveals surprising geochemical anomalies -- the 'fingerprints' of conditions that existed shortly after the planet formed.
04/06/2017 05:15 PM
Tibet sediments reveal climate patterns from late Miocene, 6 million years ago
Researchers surveyed sediment samples from the northern Tibetan Plateau's Qaidam Basin and constructed paleoclimate cycle records from the late Miocene epoch of Earth's history, which lasted from approximately 11 to 5.3 million years ago. Reconstructing past climate records can help scientists determine both natural patterns and the ways in which future glacial events and greenhouse gas emissions may affect global systems.
04/06/2017 02:15 PM
Project hotspot: Investigating the potential for geothermal energy at depth
Researchers have examined the geology of a scientific borehole drilled into the Snake River Plain, Idaho, USA, to investigate the potential for geothermal energy at depth. The site discussed in this paper is on the Mountain Home Air Force Base, where a drillhole in 1984 indicated that geothermal fluids were present at about 1.8 km depth.
04/03/2017 08:11 PM
New species evolve faster as mountains form
Mountains, like rainforests, are hotbeds of biodiversity. But scientists aren't sure why. For years, they've thought that it might be related to the new environments that arise when mountains form -- as plants and animals adapt to the new micro-habitats forming along mountainsides, they divide into new species at a faster rate than usual. But there was little hard proof supporting this hypothesis -- until now.