Earth Science News -- ScienceDaily
Earth science research and news. Read science articles on air quality, geology, meteorology, oceanography, paleontology and science and the environment.
08/17/2017 09:20 PM
New gene catalog of ocean microbiome reveals surprises
Oceanographers report completing the largest single-site microbiome gene catalog constructed to date. With this new information, the team discovered nutrient limitation is a central driver in the evolution of ocean microbe genomes.
08/17/2017 05:21 PM
Reed warblers have a sense for magnetic declination
Researchers recently showed that migratory reed warblers depend on an internal geomagnetic map to guide them on their long-distance journeys. But it wasn't clear how the birds were solving the difficult 'longitude problem,' determining where they were along the east-west axis and which way to go. The team's latest report shows birds rely on changes from east to west in magnetic declination, the angular difference between geographic north and magnetic north.
08/17/2017 04:08 PM
Whales turn tail at ocean mining noise
A new international study has measured the effect of loud sounds on migrating humpback whales as concern grows as oceans become noisier. Scientists have said one of the main sources of ocean noise was oil and gas exploration, due to geologists firing off loud acoustic air guns to probe the structure of the ocean floor in search of fossil fuels.
08/16/2017 07:18 PM
Greenland ice flow likely to speed up
Flow of the Greenland Ice Sheet is likely to speed up in the future, despite a recent slowdown, because its outlet glaciers slide over wet sediment, not hard rock, new research based on seismic surveys has confirmed. This sediment will become weaker and more slippery as global temperatures rise and meltwater supply becomes more variable. The findings challenge the view that the recent slowdowns in ice flow would continue in the long term.
08/16/2017 01:49 PM
How friction evolves during an earthquake
Using high-speed photography and digital image correlation techniques, engineers show that friction along a faultline has a complex evolution during an earthquake that is dictated, in part, by slip velocity: the sliding of the two sides of the fault against one another.
08/16/2017 01:49 PM
Supervolcanoes: A key to America's electric future?
Researchers show that lake sediments preserved within ancient supervolcanoes can host large lithium-rich clay deposits. A domestic source of lithium would help meet the rising demand for this valuable metal, which is critical for modern technology.
08/14/2017 05:53 PM
Tiny fraction of oceans could meet world's fish demand
Covering 70 percent of Earth's surface, the world's oceans are vast and deep. So vast, in fact, that nearly every coastal country has the potential to meet its own domestic seafood needs through aquaculture. In fact, each country could do so using a tiny fraction of its ocean territory.
08/14/2017 05:10 PM
Ozone treaty taking a bite out of US greenhouse gas emissions
The Montreal Protocol, the international treaty adopted to restore Earth's protective ozone layer in 1989, has significantly reduced emissions of ozone-depleting chemicals from the United States. In a twist, a new study shows the 30-year old treaty has had a major side benefit of reducing climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions from the US.
08/11/2017 11:54 PM
Where is everybody? The implications of cosmic silence
If the potential for intelligent life to exist somewhere in the universe is so large, then where is everybody? In a new paper, an astrophysicist argues that species such as ours go extinct soon after attaining high levels of technology.
08/11/2017 05:48 PM
Canary in a coal mine: Survey captures global picture of air pollution's effects on birds
Writing Aug. 11 in the journal Environmental Research Letters, University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor Tracey Holloway, an expert on air quality, and her former graduate student Olivia Sanderfoot sort through nearly 70 years of the scientific literature to assess the state of knowledge of how air pollution directly affects the health, well-being, reproductive success and diversity of birds.
08/10/2017 01:24 PM
Drone tech offers new ways to manage climate change
An innovation providing key clues to how humans might manage forests and cities to cool the planet is taking flight. Researchers are using drone technology to more accurately measure surface reflectivity on the landscape, a technological advance that could offer a new way to manage climate change.
08/09/2017 07:20 PM
New technique offers clues to measure the deoxygenation of the ocean
The living, breathing ocean may be slowly starting to suffocate. More than two percent of the ocean's oxygen content has been depleted during the last half century, according to reports, and marine 'dead zones' continue to expand throughout the global ocean. This deoxygenation, triggered mainly by more fertilizers and wastewater flowing into the ocean, pose a serious threat to marine life and ecosystems.
08/09/2017 07:20 PM
Lunar dynamo's lifetime extended by at least 1 billion years
Astronomers report that a lunar rock collected by NASA's Apollo 15 mission exhibits signs that it formed 1 to 2.5 billion years ago in the presence of a relatively weak magnetic field of about 5 microtesla. That's around 10 times weaker than Earth's current magnetic field but still 1,000 times larger than fields in interplanetary space today.
08/09/2017 07:02 PM
Successful filming of fastest aurora flickering
Researchers conducted a 3 year continuous high-speed imaging observation at Poker Flat Research Range, Alaska, USA, and identified the physics behind the flickering of aurora. At the same time, they discovered faster flickerings at speeds of 1/60-1/50 and 1/80 of a second.
08/09/2017 12:33 PM
2016 was another warm year, report confirms
A new report confirms that 2016 was another exceptionally warm year, with global temperature having reached 0.77± 0.09 degrees C above its level between 1961 and 1990.
08/07/2017 04:28 PM
Small streams have a big influence on our lives
Small streams make up 70-80 percent of the total channel length of river networks, and they strongly influence downstream portions these networks. The role small streams -- known as headstreams -- play in retaining or transmitting sediment and nutrients, providing habitat and refuge for diverse aquatic and riparian organisms, creating migration corridors, and governing connectivity at the watershed-scale is the subject of a recent review.
08/07/2017 04:15 PM
Drought-affected trees die from hydraulic failure and carbon starvation
Drought-caused tree deaths are produced by a combination of hydraulic failure and carbon starvation, shows new research. The finding, based on a meta-analysis by 62 scientists from across the world, will improve predictive models of how trees die in response to heat, drought, and other climate stresses.
08/03/2017 02:59 PM
Current threats to our oceans revealed
A survey of tens of thousands of marine studies from the last decade reveals current threats to our marine environment. These include: the effects of climate change, marine plastic pollution, conservation, as well as social and economic impacts. It is hoped the method used to obtain this information, which has only just been made possible with advances in computational power, will enable the development of robust policies that ensure the future health of our seas.
08/03/2017 01:12 AM
Where there's fire, there's smoke -- and social media
The fact that people reliably flock to social media to discuss smoke and fire was the inspiration for a new study by atmospheric scientists. The researchers showed striking correlation between numbers of Facebook users posting about visible smoke, and commonly used datasets for estimating harmful smoke exposure. These include satellite observations, chemical transport models and surface particulate matter measurements.
08/02/2017 08:25 PM
Deadly heat waves could hit South Asia this century
In South Asia, new research suggests that by the end of this century climate change could lead to summer heat waves with levels of heat and humidity that exceed what humans can survive without protection.
08/02/2017 01:33 PM
Defunct satellites: Reliably determine and predict attitude motion
Uncontrollable flying objects in the Earth‘s orbit are an enormous risk for active satellites and for spacecraft in general. Since April 2012, the European environmental satellite ENVISAT has also been adrift in orbit. Now, experts have developed pioneering methods to precisely determine the attitude rotation of malfunctioning satellites and, thus, to support de-orbiting missions in the future.
08/01/2017 07:05 PM
Chemical weathering could alleviate some climate change effects
Scientists have discovered that chemical weathering, a process in which carbon dioxide breaks down rocks and then gets trapped in sediment, can happen at a much faster rate than scientists previously assumed and could potentially counteract some of the current and future climate change caused by humans.
08/01/2017 03:17 PM
High tsunami danger in Alaska, perhaps elsewhere
Scientists probing under the seafloor off Alaska have mapped a geologic structure that they say signals potential for a major tsunami in an area that normally would be considered benign. They say the feature closely resembles one that produced the 2011 Tohoku tsunami off Japan, killing some 20,000 people and melting down three nuclear reactors. Such structures may lurk unrecognized in other areas of the world, say the scientists.
08/01/2017 02:45 PM
Successful prediction of multi-year US droughts and wildfire risk
A new study shows that difference in water temperature between the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans together with global warming impact the risk of drought and wildfire in southwestern North America. A new model proves capable of much longer-term forecasts of mega-drought and active wildfire seasons than those currently available to people in agriculture, water management and forestry.
07/31/2017 09:44 PM
Glaciers may have helped warm Earth
Weathering of Earth by glaciers may have warmed the planet over eons by aiding the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. A new study shows the cumulative effect may have created negative feedback that prevented runaway glaciation.
07/31/2017 04:46 PM
Loss of Arctic sea ice impacting Atlantic Ocean water circulation system
Arctic sea ice is not merely a passive responder to the climate changes occurring around the world, according to new research. Scientists say the ongoing Arctic ice loss can play an active role in altering one of the planet's largest water circulation systems: the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC).
07/31/2017 04:45 PM
Two degrees of warming already baked in
Even if humans could instantly turn off all our emissions of greenhouse gases, the Earth would continue to heat up about two more degrees Fahrenheit by the turn of the century, according to a sophisticated new analysis.
07/28/2017 03:08 PM
'Omnipresent' effects of human impact on England's landscape revealed
The Anthropocene has transformed England, outline researchers in a new report. The Anthropocene -- the concept that humans have so transformed geological processes at Earth's surface that we are living in a new epoch -- was formulated by Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen in 2000.
07/27/2017 07:17 PM
Getting to the root of Iceland's molten rock origins
New data reveal an unprecedented depiction of a region of partially molten rock deep within the Earth, which appears to be feeding material in the form of a plume to the surface, where Iceland is located.
07/27/2017 03:29 PM
Biochar could clear the air in more ways than one
Biochar could reduce local air pollution from agriculture by reducing emissions of nitric oxide from soil. Researchers argue that a better understanding of nitric oxide response to biochar will save lives and money, especially on farms near urban areas where agricultural emissions contribute to ozone and particulate matter formation.
07/27/2017 03:29 PM
Project to save the Belize coast provides valuable framework
A coastal zone management plan designed to safeguard Belize's natural assets has produced a win-win opportunity for people and the environment, providing a valuable framework for other coastal nations around the world where overfishing, development, and habitat degradation are increasingly serious problems.
07/27/2017 03:29 PM
Scientists identify optimal areas for conservation and agriculture in the tropics
A team of researchers has recently completed a global study on the trade-offs between the benefits provided by tropical forests and its conversion for agricultural use. The team examined deforestation activities of more than 50 countries in the tropics between 2000 to 2012, and identified regions where deforestation is most and least beneficial.
07/26/2017 03:30 PM
Lake Baikal: Protection of a unique ecosystem
Researchers are studying the impact of climate change and environmental toxins on the lake's fauna. They addressed the question of how Baikal amphipods that fulfill important ecological functions in the lake react to pollutants in the water.
07/26/2017 03:29 PM
Large-mouthed fish was top predator after mass extinction
The food chains recovered more rapidly than previously assumed after Earth's most devastating mass extinction event about 252 million years ago as demonstrated by the fossilized skull of a large predatory fish called Birgeria americana discovered by paleontologists from the University of Zurich in the desert of Nevada.
07/24/2017 04:41 PM
Allowable 'carbon budget' most likely overestimated
While most climate scientists, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, implicitly define 'pre-industrial' to be in the late 1800s, a true non-industrially influenced baseline is probably further in the past, according to an international team of researchers who are concerned because it affects the available carbon budget for meeting the 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) warming limit agreed to in the Paris Conference of 2015.