Earth Science News -- ScienceDaily

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

04/27/2017 02:17 PM
Discovery in northern lakes may be key to understanding early life on Earth
Many Canadian lakes can provide new insights into ancient oceans, a team of researchers has discovered, and these findings could advance research about greenhouse gas emissions, harmful algal blooms, and early life forms.

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.

04/26/2017 06:10 PM
Global warming accounts for tripling of extreme West African Sahel storms
Global warming is responsible for a tripling in the frequency of extreme West African Sahel storms observed in just the last 35 years, an international team of experts has reported.

04/25/2017 11:21 PM
Is climate change responsible for record-setting extreme weather events?
After an unusually intense heat wave, downpour or drought, climate scientists inevitably receive phone calls and emails asking whether human-caused climate change played a role.

04/25/2017 07:30 PM
Thought Antarctica's biodiversity was doing well? Think again
Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are not in better environmental shape than the rest of the world.

04/25/2017 07:02 PM
India's outsized coal plans would wipe out Paris climate goals
India will not be able to meet its Paris climate agreement commitments in the coming years if it carries through with plans to construct nearly 370 coal-fired power plants, according to researchers.

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 02:23 PM
New atlas provides highest-resolution imagery of the Polar Regions seafloor
Scientists have created the most comprehensive and high-resolution atlas of the seafloor of both Polar Regions.

04/25/2017 02:22 PM
Toronto's subways expose passengers to more air pollution than Montreal, Vancouver systems
Subways increase our personal exposure to certain pollutants, even as they decrease overall emissions, research finds. Another finding from this study is that Toronto has the highest levels in Canada.

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 10:22 PM
Geologist discovers whirlwind phenomena in Andes mountains
There's a lot to be learned from the winds in a Chilean desert--everything from surviving tornadoes on Earth to planning travel to Mars, with surviving climate change in between, suggests a researcher.

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.

04/24/2017 02:39 PM
Climate change clues revealed by ice sheet collapse
The rapid decline of ancient ice sheets could help scientists predict the impact of modern-day climate and sea-level change, according to new research.

04/24/2017 02:39 PM
Ambulances respond more slowly in summer and winter
Ambulance response times in London worsen when air temperatures rise or fall beyond certain limits in summer and winter, according to a new study. 

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.

04/21/2017 01:49 PM
Better way to predict the environmental impacts of agricultural production
Many companies want to know how the creation of their products affects the environment. Scientists have now found a way to better predict and quantify environmental impacts.

04/20/2017 07:18 PM
Empowerment of women worldwide key to achieving competing goals
World hunger and biodiversity loss can both be addressed by ensuring that women worldwide have access to education and contraception, an interdisciplinary team of experts argues.

04/20/2017 06:46 PM
Rising water temperatures endanger health of coastal ecosystems, study finds
Increasing water temperatures are responsible for the accumulation of a chemical called nitrite in marine environments throughout the world, a symptom of broader changes in normal ocean biochemical pathways that could ultimately disrupt ocean food webs.

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 05:20 PM
In new paper, scientists explain climate change using before/after photographic evidence
A group of scientists offers photographic proof of climate change using images of retreating glaciers.

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.

04/18/2017 04:14 PM
Arctic river ice deposits rapidly disappearing
Climate change is causing thick ice deposits that form along Arctic rivers to melt nearly a month earlier than they did 15 years ago, a new study finds.

04/17/2017 11:28 PM
'Detergent' molecules may be driving fluctuations in atmospheric methane concentrations
Researchers have found that changes in the amount of hydroxyl in the atmosphere may be responsible for the recent increase in global methane that started in 2007.

04/17/2017 06:10 PM
Behind the iron curtain: How methane-making microbes kept the early Earth warm
Using mud pulled from the bottom of a tropical lake, researchers at have gained a new grasp of how ancient microbes made methane in the complex iron chemistry of the early Earth.

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.

04/17/2017 04:48 PM
Models, observations not so far apart on planet's response to greenhouse gas emissions
Recent observations suggest less long-term warming, or climate sensitivity, than the predicted by climate models. But the mismatch is resolved by factoring in that Earth is still in the early stages of adjusting to greenhouse gases.

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 04:11 PM
Seismologists offer detailed look at New Zealand's Kaikoura earthquake
The magnitude 7.8 Kaikoura earthquake that struck the South Island of New Zealand last November was the largest on-land recorded earthquake in the country's history.

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.

04/12/2017 02:11 PM
Predictive model measuring nitrous oxide emissions in streams, rivers
When it comes to greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide tends to steal the spotlight -- but new research reveals how scientists have developed a new, predictive tool to estimate nitrous oxide emissions from rivers and streams around the world.

04/11/2017 03:45 PM
Drones collect measurements from a volcanic plume at Volcán de Fuego, Guatemala
A team of volcanologists and engineers have collected measurements from directly within volcanic clouds, together with visual and thermal images of inaccessible volcano peaks.

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
Volcanic arcs form by deep melting of rock mixtures
A new study changes our understanding of how volcanic arc lavas are formed, and may have implications for the study of earthquakes and the risks of volcanic eruption.

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 03:35 PM
Tropical lowland frogs at greater risk from climate warming than high-elevation species, study shows
A new study of Peruvian frogs living at a wide variety of elevations -- from the Amazon floodplain to high Andes peaks -- lends support to the idea that lowland amphibians are at higher risk from future climate warming.

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
The Arctic Ocean is becoming more like the Atlantic
The eastern Arctic Ocean is becoming more like the Atlantic Ocean, a new study combining remote sensing and local data finds.

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.

04/05/2017 07:44 PM
Study explores risk of deforestation as agriculture expands in Africa
Multinational companies are increasingly looking to Africa to expand production of in-demand commodity crops such as soy and oil palm. A first-of-its-kind study highlights the real and potential impacts on the continent's valuable tropical forests.

04/05/2017 06:10 PM
Plants have been helping to offset climate change, but now it's up to us
Plants are currently removing more carbon dioxide from the air than they did 200 years ago, according to new work. This team's findings affirm estimates used in models from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

04/04/2017 05:44 PM
Future carbon dioxide, climate warming potentially unprecedented in 420 million years
Over the next 100 to 200 years, carbon dioxide concentrations in the Earth's atmosphere will head towards values not seen since the Triassic period, 200 million years ago. Furthermore, by the 23rd century, the climate could reach a warmth not seen in 420 million years, say researchers.

04/04/2017 01:57 PM
Global growth of ecological, environmental citizen science is fueled by new technology
Scientists have revealed the diversity of ecological and environmental citizen science for the first time and showed that the changing face of citizen science around the world is being fueled by advances in new technology.

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.