Earth Science News -- ScienceDaily

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

10/20/2017 05:57 PM
US ocean observation critical to understanding climate change, but lacks long-term national planning
Ocean observing systems are important as they provide information essential for monitoring and forecasting changes in Earth's climate on timescales ranging from days to centuries. A new report finds that continuity of ocean observations is vital to gain an accurate understanding of the climate, and calls for a decadal, national plan that is adequately resourced and implemented to ensure critical ocean information is available to understand and predict future changes.

10/20/2017 02:22 PM
Life goes on for marine ecosystems after cataclysmic mass extinction
One of the largest global mass extinctions did not fundamentally change marine ecosystems, scientists have found.

10/19/2017 03:09 PM
Fossil coral reefs show sea level rose in bursts during last warming
Scientists have discovered that Earth's sea level did not rise steadily when the planet's glaciers last melted during a period of global warming; rather, sea level rose sharply in punctuated bursts.

10/18/2017 02:02 PM
Arsenic in domestic well water could affect 2 million people in the US
Clean drinking water can be easy to take for granted if your home taps into treated water sources. But more than 44 million people in the U.S. get their water from private domestic wells, which are largely unregulated. Of those, a new report estimates that about 2 million people could be exposed to high levels of naturally occurring arsenic in their water.

10/17/2017 04:43 PM
Scientists determine source of world's largest mud eruption
More than 11 years after the Lusi mud volcano first erupted on the Indonesian island of Java, researchers may have figured out why the mudflows haven't stopped: deep underground, Lusi is connected to a nearby volcanic system.

10/17/2017 04:43 PM
Study shows how water could have flowed on 'cold and icy' ancient Mars
Research by planetary scientists finds that periodic melting of ice sheets on a cold early Mars would have created enough water to carve the ancient valleys and lakebeds seen on the planet today.

10/16/2017 05:44 PM
Dinosaur dung fertilizes planet, new research shows
Dinosaurs were, and large animals are, important not for the quantity of dung they produce, but for their ability to move long distances across landscapes, effectively mixing the nutrients, outline researchers in a new report.

10/16/2017 01:19 PM
Waves in lakes make waves in the Earth
Scientists report that small seismic signals in lakes can aid science. As a record of wave motion in a lake, they can reveal when a lake freezes over and when it thaws. And as a small, constant source of seismic energy in the surrounding earth, lake microseisms can shine a light on the geology surrounding a lake.

10/13/2017 02:10 PM
Baltic clams, worms release as much greenhouse gas as 20,000 dairy cows
Ocean clams and worms are releasing a significant amount of potentially harmful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, scientists have shown.

10/13/2017 01:02 AM
Is it gonna blow? Measuring volcanic emissions from space
Carbon dioxide measured by a NASA satellite pinpoints sources of the gas from human and volcanic activities, which may help monitor greenhouse gases responsible for climate change.

10/13/2017 01:02 AM
Understanding rare Earth emulsions
Through a series of theoretical simulations, researchers discovered that surface polarization in mixed media increases attraction among elements.

10/12/2017 08:17 PM
Tropical tree roots represent an underappreciated carbon pool
Estimates of the carbon stored by tropical forests rarely take tree roots into consideration. Scientists report that almost 30 percent of the total biomass of tropical trees may be in the roots.

10/12/2017 07:34 PM
Satellites map photosynthesis at high resolution
Life on Earth is impossible without photosynthesis. It provides food and oxygen to all higher life forms and plays an important role in the climate system, since this process regulates the uptake of carbon dioxide from the Earth's atmosphere and its fixation in biomass. However, quantification of photosynthesis at the ecosystem-to-global scale remains uncertain. Now an international team of scientists have made a major step forward.

10/12/2017 05:30 PM
Rainfall trends in arid regions buck commonly held climate change theories
To explore the links between climatic warming and rainfall in drylands, scientists analysed more than 50 years of detailed rainfall data (measured every minute) from a semi-arid drainage basin in south east Arizona exhibiting an upward trend in temperatures during that period.

10/12/2017 03:37 PM
Carbon dioxide levels lower than thought during super greenhouse period
Researchers adds to the understanding of Earth's historic hyperthermal events to help explain the planet's current warming trend.

10/12/2017 02:10 PM
New threat to the ozone layer
'Ozone depletion is a well-known phenomenon and, thanks to the success of the Montreal Protocol, is widely perceived as a problem solved,' say some. But an international team of researchers, has now found an unexpected, growing danger to the ozone layer from substances not regulated by the treaty.

10/11/2017 07:48 PM
Risk of tsunamis in Mediterranean Sea has been overstated, say experts
A review of geological evidence for tsunamis during the past 4500 years in the Mediterranean Sea has revealed that as many as 90 per cent of these inundation events may have been misinterpreted by scientists and were due to storm activity instead.

10/11/2017 06:58 PM
Rainstorm generator assesses watershed rainfall under climate change simulations
The Colorado River tumbles through varied landscapes, draining watersheds from seven western states. This 1,450-mile-long system is a critical water supply for agriculture, industry and municipalities from Denver to Tijuana.

10/11/2017 02:17 PM
Better managing plastic waste in a handful of rivers could stem plastics in the ocean
Massive amounts of plastic bits that are dangerous to aquatic life are washing into the oceans and into even the most pristine waters. But how it all gets there from inland cities has not been fully understood. Now scientists have found that 10 rivers around the world where plastic waste is mismanaged contribute to most of the oceans' total loads that come from rivers.

10/11/2017 02:11 PM
One of planet's largest volcanic eruptions
Researchers have determined that the Pacific Northwest was home to one of the Earth's largest known volcanic eruptions, a millennia-long spewing of sulfuric gas that blocked out the sun and cooled the planet. Only two other eruptions -- the basalt floods of the Siberian Traps and the Deccan Traps -- were larger, and they led to two of the Earth's great extinctions.

10/10/2017 01:55 PM
Illegal use of natural resources in the protected Brazilian Amazon mapped
New research uses law enforcement data collected from 2010 to 2015 to understand the geographical distribution of the illegal use of natural resources across the region's protected area network. In the study, a total of 4,243 reports of illegal use of natural resources were evaluated and mapped. These reports generated US $224.6 million in fines.

10/09/2017 08:49 PM
Formation of coal almost turned our planet into a snowball
While burning coal today causes Earth to overheat, about 300 million years ago the formation of that same coal brought our planet close to global glaciation. For the first time, scientists show the massive effect in a new study.

10/09/2017 05:31 PM
Scientists complete conservation puzzle, shaping understanding of life on Earth
An international team of scientists has completed the 'atlas of life' -- the first global review and map of every vertebrate on Earth. The 39 scientists have produced a catalogue and atlas of the world's reptiles. By linking this atlas with existing maps for birds, mammals and amphibians, the team have found many new areas where conservation action is vital.

10/06/2017 08:49 PM
Mars study yields clues to possible cradle of life
The discovery of evidence for ancient sea-floor hydrothermal deposits on Mars identifies an area on the planet that may offer clues about the origin of life on Earth. The research offers evidence that these deposits were formed by heated water from a volcanically active part of the planet's crust entering the bottom of a large sea long ago.

10/06/2017 02:03 PM
Microbes dictate regime shifts causing anoxia in lakes and seas
Gradual environmental changes due to eutrophication and global warming can cause a rapid depletion of oxygen levels in lakes and coastal waters. A new study shows that microorganisms play a key role in these disastrous regime shifts.

10/06/2017 12:02 AM
Old Faithful's geological heart revealed
Scientists have mapped the near-surface geology around Old Faithful, revealing the reservoir of heated water that feeds the geyser's surface vent and how the ground shaking behaves in between eruptions.

10/05/2017 08:11 PM
Do earthquakes have a 'tell'?
Data scientists and seismologists could potentially forecast strong earthquakes through algorithms designed to detect and monitor 'deep tremor.'

10/05/2017 07:18 PM
Decision to rescind Waters of the United States rule (WOTUS) based on flawed analysis
New evidence suggests that the Trump Administration's proposal to rescind the 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule that would limit the scope of the Clean Water Act inappropriately overlooks wetlands-related values.

10/05/2017 07:18 PM
What Earth's climate system and topological insulators have in common
New research shows that equatorial waves -- pulses of warm ocean water that play a role in regulating Earth's climate -- are driven by the same dynamics as the exotic materials known as topological insulators.

10/05/2017 03:38 PM
Tracking debris in the Earth‘s orbit with centimeter precision using efficient laser technology
Uncontrollable flying objects in orbit are a massive risk for modern space travel, and, due to our dependence on satellites today, it is also a risk to global economy. Scientists have now developed a fiber laser that reliably determines the position and direction of the space debris' movement to mitigate these risks.

10/05/2017 03:26 PM
Climate solution in soil?
The land under our feet and the plant matter it contains could offset a significant amount of carbon emissions if managed properly. More research is needed to unlock soil's potential to mitigate global warming, improve crop yields and increase resilience, say researchers.

10/05/2017 03:26 PM
Supervolcanoes: Magma chambers have a sponge-like structure
Researchers show that magma chambers under supervolcanoes are more like soggy sponges than reservoirs of molten rock. Before a volcano of this kind erupts, such mush must slowly be reactivated by heat input following deep magma recharge ultimately derived from the Earth's mantle.

10/04/2017 09:38 PM
Sunlight and 'right' microbes convert Arctic carbon into carbon dioxide
A new study outlines the mechanisms and points to the importance of both sunlight and the right microbial community as keys to converting permafrost carbon to CO2.

10/04/2017 09:37 PM
Climate change, population growth may lead to open ocean aquaculture
A new analysis suggests that open-ocean aquaculture for three species of finfish is a viable option for industry expansion under most climate change scenarios -- an option that may provide a new source of protein for the world's growing population.

10/04/2017 08:12 PM
Ancient humans left Africa to escape drying climate
Humans migrated out of Africa as the climate shifted from wet to dry about 60,000 years ago, according to new paleoclimate research. What the northeast Africa climate was like when people migrated from Africa into Eurasia between 70,000 and 55,000 years ago is still uncertain. The new research shows around 70,000 years ago, the Horn of Africa climate shifted from a wet phase called 'Green Sahara' to even drier than the region is now.

10/04/2017 06:35 PM
In warmer climates, Greenlandic deltas have grown
Unlike most other deltas worldwide, Greenland's are growing -- a trend with major consequences for both fishing and tourism.

10/04/2017 06:35 PM
Fish shrinking as ocean temperatures rise
One of the most economically important fish is shrinking in body weight, length and overall physical size as ocean temperatures rise, according to new research by LSU Boyd Professor R. Eugene Turner published today. The average body size of Menhaden -- a small, silver fish -- caught off the coasts from Maine to Texas -- has shrunk by about 15 percent over the past 65 years.

10/04/2017 05:05 PM
The vitamin ergothioneine: an antioxidant for oxygen-free areas?
Chemists have been able to show for the first time that anaerobic bacteria can produce the vitamin ergothioneine in the absence of oxygen. This suggests that bacteria were forming this compound even before there was oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere. The vitamin's function therefore remains a mystery, as it was previously ascribed a role in oxygen-dependent processes.

10/04/2017 05:05 PM
Assessing regional earthquake risk and hazards in the age of exascale
Researchers are building the first-ever end-to-end simulation code to precisely capture the geology and physics of regional earthquakes, and how the shaking impacts buildings.

10/04/2017 01:29 AM
Ammonia emissions unlikely to be causing extreme China haze
As China struggles to find ways to remedy the noxious haze that lingers over Beijing and other cities in the winter, researchers have cast serious doubt on one proposed cause: high levels of ammonia in the air.

10/03/2017 05:54 PM
Computational study sheds doubt on latest theory of birds' mysterious magnetic compass
The European robin and other birds know where to migrate by sensing the direction of the Earth's magnetic field. Researchers have recently attributed this ability to a chemical reaction that takes place within the eye and whose success depends on the field direction. However, researchers now report that the current form of this 'radical-pair mechanism' is not sensitive enough to explain the disruption of the avian magnetic compass by certain radiofrequency magnetic fields.

10/03/2017 05:51 PM
New light shed on Earth's history
New research suggests that hydrogen, oxygen, water and carbon dioxide are being generated in the earth's mantle hundreds of kilometers below the earth's surface.

10/03/2017 05:50 PM
Free-flowing aerosol particles identified using holograms, lasers
Holographic images of free-flowing air particles may help climate change and biological weapons watchdogs better monitor the atmosphere, according to a recent study. The images are made by two overlapping lasers that could be mounted on an unmanned aircraft to monitor the atmosphere.

10/03/2017 02:40 PM
Earth's tectonic plates are weaker than once thought
A long-standing question regarding the strength of olivine, the primary component of Earth's mantle, has now been answered. This study has implications for how we understand now tectonic plates form and move.

10/02/2017 09:12 PM
Did life on Earth start due to meteorites splashing into warm little ponds?
Life on Earth began somewhere between 3.7 and 4.5 billion years ago, after meteorites splashed down and leached essential elements into warm little ponds, say scientists. Their calculations suggest that wet and dry cycles bonded basic molecular building blocks in the ponds' nutrient-rich broth into self-replicating RNA molecules that constituted the first genetic code for life on the planet.

10/02/2017 07:49 PM
Solar observer created key sunspot record
Few people have heard of Hisako Koyama, but the dedicated female solar observer, born in Tokyo in 1916, created one of the most important sunspot records of the past 400 years.

10/02/2017 03:52 PM
Siberian volcanic eruptions caused extinction 250 million years ago, new evidence shows
The Great Permian Extinction, which occurred approximately 250 million years ago, was caused by massive volcanic eruptions that led to significant environmental changes, new evidence shows.

10/02/2017 03:52 PM
Scale of human impact on planet has changed course of Earth's history, scientists suggest
The significant scale of human impact on our planet has changed the course of Earth history, an international team of scientists.

09/29/2017 04:30 PM
Erosion from ancient tsunami in Northern California
Geologists use ground-penetrating radar to determine the breadth and depth of erosion from an ancient tsunami in Northern California.

09/29/2017 02:32 PM
Global methane emissions from agriculture larger than reported, according to new estimates
Global methane emissions from agriculture are larger than estimated due to the previous use of out-of-date data on carbon emissions generated by livestock, according to a new study.

09/28/2017 07:20 PM
Database of earthquakes triggered by human activity is growing, with some surprises
The Human-Induced Earthquake Database (HiQuake), the world's most complete database of earthquake sequences proposed to have been triggered by human activity, now includes approximately 730 entries, according to a report.

09/28/2017 05:18 PM
Summer could be one long heatwave if planet hits 2 degrees Celsius
New paper highlighting how heatwaves will change with every degree of global warming up to 5 degrees C. It finds tropical summers may be one continuous heatwave at 2 degrees C.

09/28/2017 02:42 PM
Did rapid sea-level rise drown fossil coral reefs around Hawaii?
Investigations to predict changes in sea levels and their impacts on coastal systems are a step closer, as a result of a new international collaboration.

09/28/2017 02:42 PM
Large earthquakes along Olympic Mountain faults, Washington State, USA
A comprehensive study of faults along the north side of the Olympic Mountains of Washington State emphasizes the substantial seismic hazard to the northern Puget Lowland region. The study examined the Lake Creek-Boundary Creek and Sadie Creek faults along the north flank the Olympic Mountains, and concludes that there were three to five large, surface-rupturing earthquakes along the faults within the last 13,000 years.

09/27/2017 11:43 PM
Examining the lifestyles of microbes
Scientists are studying microbes called Parcubacteria that were found by James Cameron (director of 'Terminator') during a recent deep sea expedition. They want to study the microbes' lifestyle and see how similar they are to those found on land.

09/27/2017 06:36 PM
The volatile processes that shaped Earth
Although it is widely understood that Earth was formed gradually, from much smaller bodies, many of the processes involved in shaping our growing planet are less clear. Astronomers have now untangled some of these processes, revealing that the mini-planets added to Earth had previously undergone melting and evaporation. They also address another scientific conundrum: Earth's depletion in many economically important chemical elements.

09/27/2017 04:59 AM
Lost continent of Zealandia: Scientists return from expedition to sunken land
After a nine-week voyage to study the lost, submerged continent of in the South Pacific, a team of 32 scientists from 12 countries has arrived in Hobart, Tasmania, aboard the research vessel JOIDES Resolution.

09/25/2017 04:14 PM
Climate change can goad volcanoes into life
Geologists have analyzed volcanic data from the Messinian salinity crisis in the Mediterranean Sea, when the Strait of Gibraltar was blocked and the Mediterranean temporarily isolated from the Atlantic. After testing various scenarios, the geologists concluded that the increase in magmatic activity could only be explained by the almost total drying out of the Mediterranean.

09/25/2017 04:13 PM
World's botanic gardens contain a third of all known plant species, and help protect the most threatened
The most in-depth species survey to date finds an 'astonishing array' of plant diversity in the global botanic garden network, including 41 percent of all endangered species. However, researchers find a significant imbalance between tropical and temperate plants, and say even more capacity should be given to conservation, as there is 'no technical reason for plant species to become extinct.'

09/25/2017 03:57 PM
Scientists monitor Silicon Valley's underground water reserves -- from space
Scientists monitoring Silicon Valley's underground water reserves from space have found that water levels rebounded quickly after a severe drought that lasted from 2012-15. The research points to the success of aggressive conservation measures. It also helps to lay the groundwork for low-cost monitoring of subterranean water reserves in California and elsewhere in the world.