Earth Science News -- ScienceDaily

Earth science research and news. Read science articles on air quality, geology, meteorology, oceanography, paleontology and science and the environment.

08/16/2018 07:31 PM
Previously grainy wheat genome comes into focus
An international consortium has completed the sequence of wheat's colossal genome.

08/16/2018 12:05 AM
Study of material surrounding distant stars shows Earth's ingredients 'pretty normal'
The Earth's building blocks seem to be built from 'pretty normal' ingredients, according to researchers working with the world's most powerful telescopes. Scientists have measured the compositions of 18 different planetary systems from up to 456 light years away and compared them to ours, and found that many elements are present in similar proportions to those found on Earth. This will have implications for finding Earth-like bodies elsewhere.

08/15/2018 06:05 PM
When viruses infect phytoplankton, it can change the clouds
Microscopic plant-like organisms called phytoplankton support the diversity of life in the ocean. Scientists now report that one species, Emiliania huxleyi, and a virus closely associated with it, might be responsible for changes in cloud properties as well. When infected, E. huxleyi releases its chalky shell into the air, where it acts as an aerosol reflecting sunlight and even affecting cloud creation and movement.

08/15/2018 02:15 PM
Arctic seabird populations respond to climate change
Seabirds such as gulls can be key indicators of environmental change as their populations respond to shifts in their ocean habitat over time. A new study investigates how several species have responded to changing environmental conditions in the Arctic over the last four decades. The authors find that a warming ocean is directly and indirectly affecting seabird populations in Alaska.

08/14/2018 09:26 PM
Faster way to make mineral to remove carbon dioxide from atmosphere
Scientists have developed an accelerated way to produce magnesite, a mineral which can capture the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, at room temperature. Removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere would slow global warming. This work takes a different approach to existing processes, and may make it economically viable, but it is at an early stage and is not yet an industrial process.

08/14/2018 06:41 PM
Natural refrigerant replacements could reduce energy costs and conserve the environment
The 1987 Montreal Protocol and the 1997 Kyoto Protocol called for countries around the world to phase out substances that deplete the ozone layer, but many HVAC systems still use synthetic refrigerants that violate those international agreements and inflict environmental damage. Recently, researchers investigated how natural refrigerants could be used in geothermal heat pumps to reduce energy consumption and operating costs.

08/14/2018 06:41 PM
Diving robots find Antarctic winter seas exhale surprising amounts of carbon dioxide
A new study uses data gathered by floating drones in the Southern Ocean over past winters to learn how much carbon dioxide is transferred by the surrounding seas. Results show that in winter the open water nearest the sea ice surrounding Antarctica releases significantly more carbon dioxide than previously believed.

08/13/2018 04:35 PM
Melt-rate of West Antarctic Ice Sheet highly sensitive to changes in ocean temperatures
Melting of ice shelves in West Antarctica speeds up and slows down in response to changes in deep ocean temperature, and is far more variable than previously thought, according to new research.

08/13/2018 04:33 PM
Scientists trace atmospheric rise in CO2 during deglaciation to deep Pacific Ocean
How carbon made it out of the ocean and into the atmosphere has remained one of the most important mysteries of science. A new study, provides some of the most compelling evidence for how it happened -- a 'flushing' of the deep Pacific Ocean caused by the acceleration of water circulation patterns that begin around Antarctica.

08/13/2018 04:33 PM
Meteorite bombardment likely to have created the Earth's oldest rocks
Scientists have found that 4.02-billion-year-old silica-rich felsic rocks from the Acasta River, Canada -- the oldest rock formation known on Earth -- probably formed at high temperatures and at a surprisingly shallow depth of the planet's nascent crust. The high temperatures needed to melt the shallow crust were likely caused by a meteorite bombardment around half a billion years after the planet formed.

08/13/2018 04:33 PM
Historic space weather could clarify what's next
Scientists have discovered an underlying repeatable pattern in how space weather activity changes with the solar cycle - having analysed solar activity for the last half century.

08/13/2018 03:03 PM
Sea stars critical to kelp forest resilience
A study by a resource and environmental management researcher reveals that sunflower sea stars play a critical role in the resilience of B.C.'s kelp forests, which are among the most productive ecosystems on Earth. Similar to land-based forests, kelp forests provide essential habitat for species and also help remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

08/13/2018 03:02 PM
Converting carbon dioxide into methane or ethane selectively
Researchers have developed high-efficiency photocatalysts that convert carbon dioxide into methane or ethane with graphene-covered reduced titanium dioxide. The finding is expected to be utilized in the carbon dioxide reduction and recycling industries.

08/10/2018 02:15 PM
Does rain follow the plow?
There are many factors that play a role in whether or not it rains, and new research shows that human activity may be one of them.

08/09/2018 05:55 PM
Back to the future of climate change
Researchers are looking to the geologic past to make future projections about climate change. Their research focuses on the ancient Tethys Ocean (site of the present-day Mediterranean Sea) and provides a benchmark for present and future climate and ocean models.

08/09/2018 04:24 PM
North American diets require more land than we have, study finds
Researchers found that if the global population followed the United States Department of Agriculture's dietary guidelines, there would not be enough land to provide the food required.

08/09/2018 02:34 PM
The underestimated cooling effect on the planet from historic fires
Historic levels of particles in the atmosphere released from pre-industrial era fires, and their cooling effect on the planet, may have been significantly underestimated according to a new study.

08/09/2018 02:34 PM
Satellite measurements of the Earth's magnetosphere promise better space weather forecasts
A Japan-based research team led by Kanazawa University equipped the Arase satellite with sensors to study the convoluted interactions between high-energy particles in the inner magnetosphere and the Earth's electric and magnetic field. They have collected their first set of data from the satellite and from ground-based sensors, which they will soon analyze. Their approach promises to provide better predictions of harmful bursts of high-energy particles from the magnetosphere.

08/09/2018 12:36 AM
Effective method to control algae growth on Hawaiian coral reefs
Researchers have found a management approach that combining manual removal and outplanting native urchin was effective at reducing invasive, reef smothering macroalgae by 85 percent on a coral reef off O'ahu, Hawai'i.

08/08/2018 06:43 PM
There and back again: Mantle xenon has a story to tell
Volatiles -- such as water, carbon dioxide and the noble gases -- come out of the earth's interior through volcanism and may be injected into the mantle from the atmosphere, a pair of processes called mantle degassing and regassing. The exchange controls the habitability of the planet. This transport could not have begun much before 2.5 billion years ago, according to new research that also establishes a range of dates during which the Earth shifted to a net regassing regime.

08/08/2018 06:43 PM
Blocking sunlight to cool Earth won't reduce crop damage from global warming
Proposals to inject sulfate aerosols into the upper atmosphere to block and scatter sunlight and reduce global temperatures could, some say, also increase crop yields because of reduced heat stress on plants. A new study shows that other effects counterbalance the positive effects of reduced heat stress. Specifically, blocking sunlight reduces photosynthesis, which offsets any improvement from slightly cooler temperatures. The team based their analysis on the effects from two previous volcanic eruptions.

08/08/2018 06:42 PM
For the first time, scientists are putting extinct mammals on the map
Researchers have produced the most comprehensive family tree and atlas of mammals to date, connecting all living and recently extinct mammal species (nearly 6,000 in total) and overturning many previous ideas about global patterns of biodiversity. The atlas shows where species occur today as well as where they would occur, if they had not been driven away or extinct.

08/08/2018 06:41 PM
Expedition probes ocean's smallest organisms for climate answers
In August a team of scientists is sailing 200 miles to the northeastern Pacific Ocean with advanced robotics and other instruments on a month-long quest to investigate plankton and their impact on the carbon cycle.

08/07/2018 03:36 PM
Iron-silica particles unlock part of the mystery of Earth's oxygenation
The oxygenation of Earth's atmosphere was thanks, in part, to iron and silica particles in ancient seawater, according to a new study by geomicrobiologists. But these results solve only part of this ancient mystery.

08/07/2018 02:52 PM
Size matters: If you are a bubble of volcanic gas
The chemical composition of gases emitted from volcanoes -- which are used to monitor changes in volcanic activity -- can change depending on the size of gas bubbles rising to the surface, and relate to the way in which they erupt. The results could be used to improve the forecasting of threats posed by certain volcanoes.

08/07/2018 02:51 PM
Pacific Ocean's effect on Arctic warming
New research shows that changes in the heat flow of the northern Pacific Ocean may have a larger effect on the Arctic climate than previously thought.

08/06/2018 08:20 PM
Earth at risk of heading towards 'hothouse Earth' state
An international team of scientists is showing that even if the carbon emission reductions called for in the Paris Agreement are met, there is a risk of Earth entering what the scientists call 'hothouse Earth' conditions.

08/06/2018 08:20 PM
Wetter soil is leading to reduced methane gas absorption
A new paper finds that the existing effects of global warming are decreasing the soil's ability to absorb methane gas. The paper details findings from a study that measured forest-soil uptake of methane gas in a variety of locations and settings over a 13- to 27-year span and detected decreases of 53 to 89 percent.

08/06/2018 03:42 PM
Possible connection between U.S. tornado activity, Arctic sea ice
The effects of global climate change taking place in the Arctic may influence weather much closer to home for millions of Americans, researchers report.

08/06/2018 02:52 PM
Earthquakes can be weakened by groundwater
Researchers have found that the presence of pressurized fluid in surrounding rock can reduce the intensity of earthquakes triggered by underground human activities like geothermal energy production.

08/03/2018 05:19 PM
Each tropical tree species specializes in getting the nutrients it needs
Researchers looking for general patterns in the way tropical trees capture nutrients were surprised to find that every species has its own way of getting the nutrients it needs. The concept of biodiversity extends to their behavior.

08/03/2018 03:33 PM
Tropical forest seeds use three strategies to survive
From tiny banana seeds to giant coconuts, it's tough for seeds to survive in tropical soils where they are under constant attack by fungi, bacteria, insects and animals. By understanding how seeds defend themselves, tropical biologists contribute to reforestation, crop management and sustainable agriculture in the tropics.

08/03/2018 03:33 PM
Who owns the aquifer?
Researchers map out groundwater at stake in the wake of a court decision that bolsters Native American rights to the precious resource across an increasingly arid West.

08/02/2018 07:18 PM
Radar better than weather balloon for measuring boundary layer
Improving forecasting for a host of severe weather events may be possible thanks to a more comprehensive method for measuring the Earth's boundary layer depth.

08/02/2018 03:23 PM
Earthquakes can systematically trigger other ones on opposite side of Earth
New research shows that a big earthquake can not only cause other quakes, but large ones, and on the opposite side of the Earth.

08/01/2018 11:20 PM
Degrading plastics revealed as source of greenhouse gases
Researchers have found that several greenhouse gases are emitted as common plastics degrade in the environment. Their study reports the unexpected discovery of the universal production of greenhouse gases methane and ethylene by the most common plastics when exposed to sunlight.

08/01/2018 09:00 PM
Climate change-driven droughts are getting hotter, study finds
In a new study, researchers report that temperatures during droughts have been rising faster than in average climates in recent decades, and they point to concurrent changes in atmospheric water vapor as a driver of the surge.

08/01/2018 06:16 PM
What makes diamonds blue? Boron from oceanic crustal remnants in Earth's lower mantle
Blue diamonds -- like the world-famous Hope Diamond at the National Museum of Natural History -- formed up to four times deeper in the Earth's mantle than most other diamonds, according to new work.

08/01/2018 06:16 PM
As temperatures rise, Earth's soil is 'breathing' more heavily
The vast reservoir of carbon stored beneath our feet is entering Earth's atmosphere at an increasing rate, according to a new study. Blame microbes: When they chew on decaying leaves and dead plants, they convert a storehouse of carbon into carbon dioxide that enters the atmosphere.

08/01/2018 06:15 PM
Understanding soil through its microbiome
Soil is full of life, essential for nutrient cycling and carbon storage. To better understand how it functions, researchers conducted the first global study of bacteria and fungi in soil. Their results show that bacteria and fungi are in constant competition for nutrients and produce an arsenal of antibiotics to gain an advantage over one another.

08/01/2018 05:50 PM
Monsoon rains found to be beneficial to underground aquifers
Using a combination of field instrumentation, unmanned aerial vehicles and a hydrologic model, a team of researchers has been studying the fate of monsoon rainfall and its impact on groundwater recharge in the Chihuahuan Desert of New Mexico.

08/01/2018 05:50 PM
Icy Greenland's heated geologic past
By mapping the heat escaping from below the Greenland Ice Sheet, a scientist has sharpened our understanding of the dynamics that dominate and shape terrestrial planets.

08/01/2018 04:52 PM
Scientists draw new connections between climate change and warming oceans
Earth scientists exploring how ocean chemistry has evolved found similarities between an event 55 million years ago and current predicted trajectories of planet temperatures, with regards to inputs of CO2 into the atmosphere and oxygen levels in the oceans. As the oceans warm, oxygen decreases while hydrogen sulfide increases, making the oceans toxic and putting marine species at risk.

07/31/2018 09:41 PM
What is causing more extreme precipitation in northeastern U.S.?
From Maine to West Virginia, the Northeast has seen a larger increase in extreme precipitation than anywhere else in the US. Prior research found that these heavy rain and snow events, defined as a day with about two inches of precipitation or more, have been 53 percent higher in the Northeast since 1996. A new study finds that hurricanes and tropical storms are the primary cause of this increase, followed by thunderstorms along fronts and extratropical cyclones like Nor'easters.

07/31/2018 05:55 PM
Urban geophone array offers new look at northern Los Angeles basin
Using an array of coffee-can sized geophones deployed for about a month in backyards, golf courses and public parks, researchers collected enough data to allow them to map the depth and shape of the San Gabriel and San Bernardino sedimentary basins of Los Angeles, California.

07/31/2018 03:42 PM
Recreational fisheries pose threat to skittish sea turtles
When recreational scallopers flocked to Florida's Crystal River region, native sea turtles turned tail. Researchers say that sudden behavioral disruption could mean trouble the turtles overall health.

07/31/2018 02:20 PM
Platinum is key in ancient volcanic related climate change
Scientists look to platinum for clues to stay ahead of future high magnitude volcanic related climate change.

07/30/2018 07:54 PM
Solar flares disrupted radio communications during September 2017 Atlantic hurricanes
An unlucky coincidence of space and Earth weather in early September 2017 caused radio blackouts for hours during critical hurricane emergency response efforts, according to a new study. The new research, which details how the events on the Sun and Earth unfolded side-by-side, could aid in the development of space weather forecasting and response, according to the study's authors.

07/30/2018 05:03 PM
Do bacteria ever go extinct? New research says yes, bigtime
Bacteria go extinct at substantial rates, although appear to avoid the mass extinctions that have hit larger forms of life on Earth, according to new research. The finding contradicts widely held scientific thinking that microbe taxa, because of their very large populations, rarely die off.

07/30/2018 05:03 PM
Ever-increasing CO2 levels could take us back to the tropical climate of Paleogene period
A new study has warned that unless we mitigate current levels of carbon dioxide emissions, Western Europe and New Zealand could revert to the hot tropical climate of the early Paleogene period -- 56-48 million years ago.

07/30/2018 05:03 PM
New understanding of deep earthquakes
Researchers have for the first time reported a way to analyze seismic wave radiation patterns in deep earthquakes to suggest global deep earthquakes are in anisotropic rocks.

07/30/2018 05:02 PM
Homo sapiens developed a new ecological niche that separated it from other hominins
A new study argues that the greatest defining feature of our species is not 'symbolism' or dramatic cognitive change but rather its unique ecological position as a global 'generalist specialist'.

07/28/2018 01:41 PM
Deglacial changes in western Atlantic Ocean circulation
A new study carried out by an international team of researchers, using the chemistry of ocean sediments has highlighted a widespread picture of Atlantic circulation changes associated with rapid climate change in the past.

07/28/2018 01:41 PM
A sleeping treasure in a university collection has turned out to be Japan’s iconic extinct mammal
After more than 60 years, the bone of an iconic extinct Japanese mammal has been rediscovered. With the help of an old label and local knowledge, two equally possible sites in the town of Tsuchiyu Onsen were identified. The 'dinosaur' bone was discovered during construction of a debris dam and identified as the 15.9-million-year-old femur of Paleoparadoxia, a genus of marine mammals.

07/26/2018 09:27 PM
First mapping of global marine wilderness shows just how little remains
reporting in Current Biology on July 26 have completed the first systematic analysis of marine wilderness around the world. And what they found is not encouraging; only a small fraction -- about 13 percent -- of the world's ocean can still be classified as wilderness.

07/26/2018 09:10 PM
Tropical treetops are warming, putting sensitive species at risk
New research shows that tropical forest canopies are warming significantly faster than air temperatures. That could mean major consequences for overall forest health.

07/26/2018 09:10 PM
Glaciers in East Antarctica also 'imperiled' by climate change
Scientists have found evidence of significant mass loss in East Antarctica's Totten and Moscow University glaciers, which, if they fully collapsed, could add 5 meters (16.4 feet) to the global sea level.

07/26/2018 01:59 PM
Mapping mountaintop coal mining's yearly spread in Appalachia
A new mapping tool shows, in more detail than ever before, the land laid bare by mountaintop coal mining in central Appalachia each year, going back more than three decades. The tool uses satellite imagery to identify and map the annual extent of mining activity across portions of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. The researchers say the updated maps will make it easier to assess and mitigate mining's environmental and health impacts.

07/26/2018 01:59 PM
NE Australian marine heatwave shakes up coral reef animal populations
Research describes upheaval among fish and invertebrate communities after a marine heatwave hit Australia's Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea in early 2016. The study analyzed data collected across these areas by the Reef Life Survey (RLS) citizen science program. It identified important changes in reef-animal communities that may affect the resilience of coral reefs, potentially reducing the capacity of corals to rebuild after mass bleaching.

07/26/2018 01:59 PM
Time is running out in the tropics: Researchers warn of global biodiversity collapse
A global biodiversity collapse is imminent unless we take urgent, concerted action to reverse species loss in the tropics, according to a major scientific study.