Earth Science News -- ScienceDaily

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

02/23/2018 08:18 PM
Link between surface-water salinity and climate change examined
New research explores the impact of de-icing salt from roads and highways on a local watershed. The findings offer hope for the watershed's future surface-water chloride concentrations.

02/22/2018 09:21 PM
Few Chicagoland wetlands left without non-native species, study finds
The wetlands in and around Chicago are overwhelmingly invaded by non-native plants, according to a new study. The study, which pulls together species occurrence data from over 2,000 wetlands in the urban region, is the first to describe wetland invasion patterns on such a large scale in the Chicagoland area.

02/22/2018 07:49 PM
Stagnation in the South Pacific
A team led by geochemist has discovered important evidence that the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels at the end of the last ice age was triggered by changes in the Antarctic Ocean.

02/22/2018 03:35 PM
New insight into how magma feeds volcanic eruptions
Researchers have provided new insights into how molten rock (magma) moves through the Earth's crust to feed volcanic eruptions. Using laboratory experiments involving water, jelly and laser imaging, researchers were able to demonstrate how magma magma flows through the Earth's crust to the surface through magma-filled cracks called dykes.

02/22/2018 02:04 PM
Seasonal patterns in the Amazon explained
Environmental scientists have led an international collaboration to improve satellite observations of tropical forests. With the help of professional tree climbers, the scientists collected field data on three factors that affect canopy 'greenness.'

02/21/2018 07:09 PM
Tropical trees use unique method to resist drought
Tropical trees in the Amazon Rainforest may be more drought resistant than previously thought, according to a new study. That's good news, since the Amazon stores about 20 percent of all carbon in the Earth's biomass, which helps reduce global warming by lowering the planet's greenhouse gas levels.

02/21/2018 06:18 PM
Theory suggests root efficiency, independence drove global spread of flora
Researchers suggest that plants spread worldwide thanks to root adaptations that allowed them to become more efficient and independent. As plant species spread, roots became thinner so they could more efficiently explore poor soils for nutrients, and they shed their reliance on symbiotic fungi. The researchers report that root diameter and reliance on fungi most consistently characterize the plant communities across entire biomes such as deserts, savannas and temperate forests.

02/21/2018 06:18 PM
First evidence of surprising ocean warming around Galápagos corals
A new analysis of the natural temperature archives stored in coral reefs shows the ocean around the Galápagos Islands has been warming since the 1970s. The finding surprised the research team, because the sparse instrumental records for sea surface temperature for that part of the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean did not show warming. Scientists thought strong upwelling of colder deep waters spared the region from the warming seen in other parts of the Pacific.

02/21/2018 05:29 PM
'Chameleon' ocean bacteria can shift their colors
Cyanobacteria -- which propel the ocean engine and help sustain marine life -- can shift their color like chameleons to match different colored light across the world's seas, according to new research.

02/21/2018 02:20 PM
Solar radiation mineralizes terrestrial dissolved organic carbon in the ocean
Organic carbon dissolved in water plays a vital role in the Earth's carbon cycle. Understanding carbon cycling is central to understanding climate change and how aquatic communities are structured and supported. Scientists have found out that solar radiation mineralizes more terrestrial dissolved organic carbon in the ocean than in the inland waters.

02/20/2018 10:03 PM
Distant tropical storms have ripple effects on weather close to home
Researchers report a breakthrough in making accurate predictions of weather weeks ahead. They've created an empirical model fed by careful analysis of 37 years of historical weather data. Their model centers on the relationship between two well-known global weather patterns: the Madden-Julian Oscillation and the quasi-biennial oscillation.

02/20/2018 09:12 PM
Open data help scientists unravel Earth systems
Understanding nature and its processes has greatly benefitted from open data. Open remotely sensed data make hard-to-reach wilderness areas more accessible -- at least from above. These advances provide new opportunities for Earth system research.

02/20/2018 09:12 PM
Beluga whales dive deeper, longer to find food in Arctic
Beluga whales that spend summers feeding in the Arctic are diving deeper and longer to find food than in earlier years, when sea ice covered more of the ocean for longer periods, according to a new analysis.

02/20/2018 07:35 PM
Land use change has warmed Earth's surface
Recent changes to vegetation cover are causing Earth's surface to heat up. Activities like cutting down evergreen forests for agricultural expansion in the tropics create energy imbalances that lead to higher local surface temperatures and contribute to global warming.

02/20/2018 05:30 PM
Laser-ranged satellite measurement now accurately reflects Earth's tidal perturbations
Tides on Earth have a far-reaching influence, including disturbing satellites' measurements by affecting their motion. The LAser RElativity Satellite (LARES), is the best ever relevant test particle to move in the Earth's gravitational field. In a new study, LARES proves its efficiency for high-precision probing of General Relativity and fundamental physics.

02/20/2018 05:30 PM
Involving the public in water policies is key to successful municipal water systems, study finds
Informing residents about local water issues and involving them in local water policies are the keys to building healthy and resilient city water systems, according to a new study.

02/20/2018 02:49 PM
Nitrate flux in the Arctic not following the decreasing NOx emissions in neighboring countries
Nitrate deposits in the Arctic remains high even after the turn of the century, despite environmental policies adopted by neighboring countries in the late 20th century to cut nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions.

02/19/2018 08:50 PM
Plants colonized Earth 100 million years earlier than previously thought
A new study on the timescale of plant evolution has concluded that the first plants to colonize the Earth originated around 500 million years ago -- 100 million years earlier than previously thought.

02/16/2018 07:26 PM
Scientists eavesdrop on volcanic rumblings to forecast eruptions
Sound waves generated by burbling lakes of lava atop some volcanoes point to greater odds of magmatic outbursts. This finding could provide advance warning to people who live near active volcanoes.

02/16/2018 01:49 PM
Soft tissue fossil clues could help search for ancient life on Earth and other planets
Fossils that preserve entire organisms (including both hard and soft body parts) are critical to our understanding of evolution and ancient life on Earth. However, these exceptional deposits are extremely rare. New research suggests that the mineralogy of the surrounding earth is key to conserving soft parts of organisms, and finding more exceptional fossils. The work could potentially support the Mars Rover Curiosity in its sample analysis, and speed up the search for traces of life on other planets.

02/15/2018 06:11 PM
Geophysicists and atmospheric scientists partner to track typhoons' seismic footprints
A remarkable collaboration between atmospheric science and geophysics could change the way we think about storms and seismicity, and could lead to an answer to the often-asked 'Are hurricanes getting stronger?' The team has identified the seismic footprint of typhoons and hurricanes, which allows climate scientists to add decades to their dataset of powerful storms.

02/15/2018 04:03 PM
Mystery of phytoplankton survival in nutrient-poor pacific
Upwelling in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean provides essential nutrients for the region’s microscopic plants, but iron – a key ingredient that facilitates nitrogen consumption – is in short supply. To compensate, the phytoplankton band together to recycle the scarce metal and retain it in their upper-ocean habitat, scientists have discovered.

02/15/2018 04:02 PM
Deforestation in the tropics
Tropical forests around the world play a key role in the global carbon cycle and harbor more than half of the species worldwide. However, increases in land use during the past decades caused unprecedented losses of tropical forest. Scientists have adapted a method from physics to mathematically describe the fragmentation of tropical forests. They explain how this allows to model and understand the fragmentation of forests on a global scale. They found that forest fragmentation in all three continents is close to a critical point beyond which fragment number will strongly increase. This will have severe consequences for biodiversity and carbon storage.

02/15/2018 03:57 PM
Don't blame hurricanes for most big storm surges in Northeast
Hurricanes spawn most of the largest storm surges in the northeastern US, right? Wrong, according to a new study. Extratropical cyclones, including nor'easters and other non-tropical storms, generate most of the large storm surges in the Northeast, according to the new study. They include a freak November 1950 storm and devastating nor'easters in March 1962 and December 1992.

02/15/2018 03:57 PM
Key to predicting climate change could be blowing in the wind
Dust that blew into the North Pacific Ocean could help explain why the Earth's climate cooled 2.7 million years ago, according to a new study.

02/14/2018 08:02 PM
Risk of extreme weather events higher if Paris Agreement goals aren't met
The Paris Agreement has aspirational goals of limiting temperature rise that won't be met by current commitments. That difference could make the world another degree warmer and considerably more prone to extreme weather.

02/14/2018 08:01 PM
Analysis of major earthquakes supports stress reduction assumptions
A comprehensive analysis of 101 major earthquakes around the Pacific ring of fire between 1990 and 2016 shows that most of the aftershock activity occurred on the margins of the areas where the faults slipped a lot during the main earthquakes. The findings support the idea that the area of large slip during a major earthquake is unlikely to rupture again for a substantial time.

02/14/2018 08:00 PM
Dance of auroras: First direct observation of electron frolic
The shower of electrons bouncing across Earth's magnetosphere -- commonly known as the Northern Lights -- has been directly observed for the first time by an international team of scientists. While the cause of these colorful auroras has long been hypothesized, researchers had never directly observed the underlying mechanism until now.

02/14/2018 03:03 PM
Small lakes and temporary ponds release CO2 into the atmosphere even when they are dry
Temporary lakes and ponds emit CO2 all year –- even when they are dry -- and dry areas actually emit a larger amount of carbon into the atmosphere. This phenomenon, described now for the first time, could have an impact on the global carbon cycle that controls Earth’s climate, according to a new study.

02/13/2018 11:35 PM
NASA's longest running survey of ice shattered records in 2017
Last year was a record-breaking one for Operation IceBridge, NASA's aerial survey of the state of polar ice.

02/13/2018 11:35 PM
Polar vortex defies climate change in the Southeast U.S.
Overwhelming scientific evidence has demonstrated that our planet is getting warmer due to climate change, yet parts of the eastern US are actually getting cooler. According to a new study, the location of this anomaly, known as the 'US warming hole,' is a moving target. During the winter and spring, the US warming hole sits over the Southeast, as the polar vortex allows arctic air to plunge into the region, resulting in persistently cooler temperatures.

02/13/2018 07:58 PM
Earthquakes continue for years after gas field wastewater injection stops, study finds
Shutting down oil and gas wastewater injection wells may not stop human-induced earthquakes quickly, say seismologists. The scientists analyzed earthquakes at DFW Airport that began in 2008 and found that even though wastewater injection was halted after a year, earthquakes continued for at least seven more years. They concluded that high-volume injection, even for a short time, can induce long-lasting seismicity when it's near a critically stressed fault.

02/13/2018 05:04 PM
Why the seafloor starts moving
When the seabed loses its stability and starts to move, it often happens in much larger dimensions than landslides ashore -- and at slopes with very low gradients. At the same time, discplacement of large amounts of sediment under water scan cause devastating tsunamis. However, why and when submarine landslides develop is hardly understood. Marine scientists have now published possible causes based on observations on submarine landslides off the coast of northwest Africa.

02/13/2018 04:14 PM
By 2100, arid cities will suffer from more severe heat waves than temperate cities
By 2100, arid cities like Phoenix will become hotbeds for heatwaves compared to their rural surroundings, while cities on the eastern seaboard will be less severely affected by heatwaves compared to theirs. The findings highlight the importance of heat-mitigation strategies and infrastructures such as green roofs.

02/12/2018 08:07 PM
Sea level rise accelerating: acceleration in 25-year satellite sea level record
Global sea level rise is not cruising along at a steady rate per year, but rather accelerating a little every year like a driver merging onto a highway.

02/12/2018 08:07 PM
Limited scope of corporate sustainability revealed
The first large-scale analysis of corporate practices for sourcing sustainable materials shows that many companies address sustainability at some level, but most deal with only one or a subset of materials within a small portion of their supply chain.

02/12/2018 06:34 PM
Tiny fossils, huge landslides: Are diatoms the key to Earth's biggest slides?
The biggest landslides on Earth aren't on land, but on the seafloor. These mega-slides can move thousands of cubic kilometers of material, and sometimes trigger tsunamis. Yet, remarkably, they occur on nearly flat slopes of less than three degrees.

02/12/2018 05:58 PM
Acoustic imaging reveals hidden features of megathrust fault off Costa Rica
Geophysicists have obtained detailed three-dimensional images of a dangerous megathrust fault west of Costa Rica where two plates of the Earth's crust collide. The images reveal features of the fault surface, including long grooves or corrugations, that may determine how the fault will slip in an earthquake.

02/12/2018 04:17 PM
Portable optical clock used to measure gravitation for the first time
A European collaboration has used one of the world's portable optical atomic clocks to measure gravitation for the first time.

02/12/2018 03:31 PM
Why did gas hydrates melt at the end of the last ice age?
Large amounts of the greenhouse gas methane are locked up as solid gas hydrates in the continental slopes of ocean margins. Their stability depends on low temperatures and high pressure. However, other factors that influence gas hydrate stability are not as well understood. A research team has found evidence off the coast of Norway that the amount of sediment deposited on the seafloor can play a crucial role.

02/09/2018 03:07 PM
Organic food provides significant environmental benefits to plant-rich diets
A study of the diets of 34,000 people confirms that a diet high in fruit and vegetables is better for the planet than one high in animal products. The study also finds that organic food provides significant, additional climate benefits for plant-based diets, but not for diets with only moderate contribution from plant products. This is the first-ever study to look at the environmental impacts of both food choices and farm production systems.

02/09/2018 03:07 PM
Giant lava dome confirmed in Japan's Kikai Caldera
Researchers have confirmed that a giant lava dome was created in the Kikai Caldera, south of Japan's main islands after the caldera-forming supereruption 7,300 years ago. The dome is in the world's largest class of post-caldera volcano, with a volume of over 32 cubic kilometers. It is possible that currently a giant magma buildup may exist under the Kikai Caldera.

02/08/2018 11:03 PM
Cockroach ancient geographic and genomic history traced back to last supercontinent
Armed with a vast amount of genomic information, a team of researchers has performed the first molecular dating to gain the clearest picture yet of the biogeographical history of cockroaches. They have traced back the key evolutionary time points of the cockroach -- all the way back almost 300 million years ago when the Earth's mass was organized into the Pangaea supercontinent.

02/08/2018 07:51 PM
Earthquake simulations of California's Hayward fault
In the next 30 years, there is a one-in-three chance that California's Hayward fault will rupture with a 6.7 magnitude or higher earthquake. Scientists have used some of the world's most powerful supercomputers to model ground shaking for a magnitude 7.0 earthquake on the Hayward fault and show more realistic motions than ever before.

02/08/2018 07:14 PM
New map profiles induced earthquake risk for West Texas
A map created by geophysicists can help predict which parts of West Texas and New Mexico may be at risk of fracking-induced earthquakes. The map could guide oil discovery efforts in the region.

02/08/2018 07:12 PM
Savanna fires pump Central African forests full of nitrogen
Researchers are revealing the unexpected role that large-scale fires and high nitrogen deposition play in the ecology and biogeochemistry of these lush Central African forests.

02/08/2018 05:08 PM
Rapid land changes forecast for East African savannahs
A study, presenting a 5000-year environmental history of the popular tourist destination, Amboseli National Park in Kenya, has shown that the impact of climate change on land is more rapid than previously thought.

02/08/2018 05:08 PM
Micro to macro mapping -- Observing past landscapes via remote-sensing
New multi-scale relief modelling algorithm helps archaeologists rediscover topographical features of the past.

02/07/2018 08:18 PM
Challenging core belief: Have we misunderstood how Earth's solid center formed?
Researchers are posing an important question about the formation of planet Earth's inner core, arguing that it's time to consider the nucleation paradox at the heart of the issue.

02/07/2018 08:18 PM
Researchers build alien ocean to test NASA outer space submarine
Building a submarine gets tricky when the temperature drops to -300 Fahrenheit and the ocean is made of methane and ethane. Researchers are working to determine how a submarine might work on Titan, the largest of Saturn's many moons and the second largest in the solar system. The space agency plans to launch a real submarine into Titan seas in the next 20 years.

02/07/2018 07:27 PM
A one-two punch may have helped deck the dinosaurs
A record of volcanism preserved along ancient mid-ocean ridges provides evidence for heightened worldwide magmatic activity 66 million years ago just after the Chicxulub meteor struck Earth, according to scientists.

02/07/2018 07:27 PM
Increased UV from ozone depletion sterilizes trees
Paleobotanists put dwarf, bonsai pine trees in growth chambers and subjected them to up to 13 times the UV-B radiation Earth experiences today, simulating conditions that likely existed 252 million years ago during the planet's worst mass extinction. The UV-B made the pines temporarily sterile and created malformed pollen, evidence that ozone depletion from volcanic eruptions could have led to high UV-B levels that contributed to the end-Permian crisis for plants and animals.

02/07/2018 07:04 PM
New fuel standards will decrease childhood asthma cases
A new study quantifies health benefits of new a standard for shipping fuel, finding it will result in a 3.6 percent reduction of childhood asthma globally.

02/07/2018 07:03 PM
Towards a better prediction of solar eruptions
Just one phenomenon may underlie all solar eruptions. Researchers have identified the presence of a confining 'cage' in which a magnetic rope forms, causing solar eruptions. It is the resistance of this cage to the attack of the rope that determines the power and type of the upcoming flare. This work has enabled the scientists to develop a model capable of predicting the maximum energy that can be released during a solar flare.

02/07/2018 05:06 PM
Biotechnologists look to bacteria in extremely cold environments for 'green' detergents
Despite subzero temperatures, increased UV radiation, little liquid water, and few available nutrients, bacteria living at Earth's poles thrive. They manage it thanks in part to molecules called biosurfactants, which help them separate the complex substrates they feed on into easy-to-metabolize droplets. Researchers now review the hypothetical uses of these cold-loving molecules for 'green' detergents, fuel additives, and other applications.

02/07/2018 03:27 PM
Giant viruses may play an intriguing role in evolution of life on Earth
A virus may have influenced the evolution of multicellular life. Biologist have found a virus family that has a similar set of genes as eukaryotes, placing giant viruses in the evolutionary journey of most plants, insects, and animals.

02/06/2018 03:58 PM
Reduced energy from the sun might occur by mid-century: Now scientists know by how much
The Sun might emit less radiation by mid-century, giving planet Earth a chance to warm a bit more slowly but not halt the trend of human-induced climate change.

02/06/2018 03:58 PM
Sea floor uplift after last ice age causes methane release in the Arctic today
Present-day release of methane from an area of the Arctic Ocean is an effect of the uplift of the sea floor, rather than anthropogenic ocean warming, a new study states.

02/06/2018 03:58 PM
Iberian Peninsula rodents migrated due to climate change 12 million years ago
Changes in Southwestern Europe's climate which happened between 12 and 5 million years ago had a drastic impact over the rodent communities. These profound changes in environmental conditions led to a separation between species adapted to arid environments which migrated to interior regions of the Iberian Peninsula and species adapted to humid environments thriving where Catalonia and France are today, according to a new study.

02/06/2018 03:58 PM
Data-driven shale dialogue: water quality concerns
Research examines a dialogue about shale drilling between concerned citizens, watershed groups, government regulators and personnel from large energy companies by focusing on publicly available water quality data.