Earth Science News -- ScienceDaily

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

02/23/2017 05:43 PM
Air pollution may have masked mid-20th Century sea ice loss
Humans may have been altering Arctic sea ice longer than previously thought, according to researchers studying the effects of air pollution on sea ice growth in the mid-20th Century.

02/23/2017 02:24 PM
Warming temperatures could trigger starvation, extinctions in deep oceans
Researchers from 20 of the world's leading oceanographic research centers today warned that the world's largest habitat -- the deep ocean floor -- may face starvation and sweeping ecological change by the year 2100.

02/23/2017 02:24 PM
Study targets warm water rings that fuel hurricane intensification in the Caribbean Sea
A new study deployed 55 aircraft ocean instruments from the National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration's WP-3D aircraft. The purpose of the scientific mission was to measure ocean temperature, salinity, and currents to understand the structure of these warm-water eddies.

02/23/2017 02:53 AM
Low snowpacks of 2014, 2015 may become increasingly common with warmer conditions
Oregon experienced very low snowpack levels in 2014 and historically low snowpack levels in 2015. Now a new study suggests that these occurrences may not be anomalous in the future and could become much more common if average temperatures warm just two degrees (Celsius).

02/22/2017 08:27 PM
Hot spots of marine biodiversity most severely impacted by global warming
A new study aimed at identifying areas of highest conservation priority in the world's oceans found six 'hot spots of marine biodiversity' that are severely impacted by climate change and fishing pressures.

02/22/2017 06:15 PM
From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'
Plumbing a 90 million-year-old layer cake of sedimentary rock in Colorado, a team of scientists has found evidence confirming a critical theory of how the planets in our solar system behave in their orbits around the sun. The finding is important because it provides the first hard proof for what scientists call the ''chaotic solar system.'

02/22/2017 06:15 PM
'Quartz' crystals at Earth's core power its magnetic field
Scientists at the Earth-Life Science Institute at the Tokyo Institute of Technology report in Nature (Fen. 22, 2017) unexpected discoveries about the Earth's core. The findings include insights into the source of energy driving the Earth's magnetic field, factors governing the cooling of the core and its chemical composition, and conditions that existed during the formation of the Earth.

02/22/2017 04:38 PM
Insight into a physical phenomenon that leads to earthquakes
Researchers provide insight into a phenomenon called ageing that leads to more powerful earthquakes.

02/22/2017 03:25 AM
Forests worldwide threatened by drought
Forests around the world are at risk of death due to widespread drought, researchers have found. An analysis suggests that forests are at risk globally from the increased frequency and severity of droughts.

02/21/2017 08:07 PM
Over time, nuisance flooding can cost more than extreme, infrequent events
Global climate change is being felt in many coastal communities of the United States, not always in the form of big weather disasters but as a steady drip, drip, drip of nuisance flooding. These smaller events can actually be more expensive overall, researchers report.

02/21/2017 04:07 PM
Experiments call origin of Earth's iron into question
New research reveals that the Earth's unique iron composition isn't linked to the formation of the planet's core, calling into question a prevailing theory about the events that shaped our planet during its earliest years.

02/21/2017 03:10 PM
Winners and losers: Climate change will shift vegetation
Projected global warming will likely decrease the extent of temperate drylands by one-third over the remainder of the 21st century coupled with an increase in dry deep soil conditions during agricultural growing season.

02/20/2017 06:47 PM
Why are there different 'flavors' of iron around the Solar System?
New work shows that interactions between iron and nickel under the extreme pressures and temperatures similar to a planetary interior can help scientists understand the period in our Solar System's youth when planets were forming and their cores were created.

02/20/2017 01:42 PM
Unsung hero of science: Assessment
Assessment adds enormous value to the scientific landscape, creating foundations for government and society.

02/17/2017 09:09 PM
It's more than just climate change
Accurately modeling climate change and interactive human factors -- including inequality, consumption, and population -- is essential for the effective science-based policies and measures needed to benefit and sustain current and future generations. A recent study presents extensive evidence of the need for a new paradigm of modeling that fully incorporates the feedbacks between Earth systems and human systems.

02/17/2017 02:59 PM
Quest for climate-friendly refrigerants finds complicated choices
Researchers have just completed a multiyear study to identify the 'best' candidates for future use as air conditioning refrigerants that will have the lowest impact on the climate.

02/16/2017 07:39 PM
Underwater seagrass beds dial back polluted seawater
Seagrass meadows -- bountiful underwater gardens that nestle close to shore and are the most common coastal ecosystem on Earth -- can reduce bacterial exposure for corals, other sea creatures and humans, according to new research.

02/16/2017 06:03 PM
Snow science supporting our nation's water supply
Researchers have completed the first flights of a NASA-led field campaign that is targeting one of the biggest gaps in scientists' understanding of Earth's water resources: snow.

02/15/2017 07:59 PM
Old rocks, biased data: Overcoming challenges studying the geodynamo
Bias introduced through analyzing the magnetism of old rocks may not be giving geophysicists an accurate idea of how Earth's magnetic dynamo has functioned. A team has shown there is a way to improve the methodology to get a better understanding of the planet's geodynamo.

02/15/2017 06:15 PM
How an Ice Age paradox could inform sea level rise predictions
New research findings explain an Ice Age paradox and add to the mounting evidence that climate change could bring higher seas than most models predict.

02/15/2017 06:15 PM
Global ocean de-oxygenation quantified
The ongoing global change causes rising ocean temperatures and changes the ocean circulation. Therefore less oxygen is dissolved in surface waters and less oxygen is transported into the deep sea. This reduction of oceanic oxygen supply has major consequences for the organisms in the ocean. Scientists have now published the most comprehensive analysis on oxygen loss in the world's oceans and their cause so far.

02/15/2017 05:11 PM
Scientists report ocean data from under Greenland's Petermann Glacier
Based on data from the first ocean sensors deployed under Greenland's Petermann Glacier, researchers report that the floating ice shelf is strongly coupled, or tied, to the ocean below and to the adjacent Nares Strait. Warming temperatures recorded at the deepest ocean sensors match data from Nares Strait, which connects the Arctic and Atlantic oceans.

02/15/2017 02:28 PM
Extreme waves caught with higher-resolution modeling
A new study shows that high-resolution models captured hurricanes and big waves that low-resolution ones missed. Better extreme wave forecasts are important for coastal cities, the military, the shipping industry, and surfers.

02/15/2017 01:41 PM
Canadian glaciers now major contributor to sea level change, study shows
Ice loss from Canada's Arctic glaciers has transformed them into a major contributor to sea level change, new research has found. From 2005 to 2015, surface melt off ice caps and glaciers of the Queen Elizabeth Islands grew by an astonishing 900 percent.

02/15/2017 01:41 PM
Some marine creatures may be more resilient to harsher ocean conditions than expected
As the world continually emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the oceans are taking a hit, absorbing some of it and growing more acidic. Among other effects, scientists have found that coral reefs and oyster hatcheries are deteriorating as a result. However, scientists studying a type of sea snail report a bit of bright news: The animal can adapt by rejiggering its shell-making process and other functions.

02/14/2017 09:27 PM
Ancient jars found in Judea reveal Earth's magnetic field is fluctuating, not diminishing
Surprising new evidence derived from ancient ceramics proves that the Earth's geomagnetic force fluctuates -- not diminishes -- over time, researchers say.

02/14/2017 06:04 PM
Seismicity in British Columbia and hidden continent called Zealandia
Seismicity in the Pacific Northwest is well documented and includes recent seismic activity on fault systems within the Juan de Fuca Strait. However, the seismic potential of crustal faults within the forearc of the northern Cascadia subduction zone in British Columbia has remained elusive.

02/13/2017 08:26 PM
Sunlight or bacteria? Scientists investigate what breaks down permafrost carbon
Researchers found sunlight converted little if any permafrost thawed carbon to carbon dioxide, whereas microbes were shown to rapidly convert permafrost carbon to carbon dioxide.

02/13/2017 08:12 PM
Using high-resolution satellites to measure African farm yields
By using high-res images taken by the latest generation of compact satellites, scientists have developed a new capability for estimating crop yields from space.

02/13/2017 06:15 PM
Banned chemicals from the '70s found in the deepest reaches of the ocean
Crustaceans from the deepest ocean trenches found to contain ten times the level of industrial pollution than the average earthworm, scientists have shown.

02/13/2017 06:14 PM
Marine bacteria produce an environmentally important molecule with links to climate
Scientists have discovered that tiny marine bacteria can synthesize one of Earth's most abundant sulfur molecules, which affects atmospheric chemistry and potentially climate. This molecule, dimethylsulfoniopropionate is an important nutrient for marine microorganisms and is the major precursor for the climate-cooling gas, dimethyl sulfide.

02/13/2017 06:14 PM
Impact of climate change on mammals and birds 'greatly underestimated'
Large numbers of threatened species have already been impacted by climate change, new research concludes. Alarmingly, this team of international researchers found evidence of observed responses to recent climate changes in almost 700 birds and mammal species.

02/13/2017 05:43 PM
New theory explains how Earth's inner core remains solid despite extreme heat
Even though it is hotter than the surface of the Sun, the crystallized iron core of the Earth remains solid. A new study may finally settle a longstanding debate over how that's possible, as well as why seismic waves travel at higher speeds between the planet's poles than through the equator.

02/13/2017 02:07 PM
Scientists uncover huge 1.8 million square kilometers reservoir of melting carbon under Western United States
New research describes how scientists have used the world's largest array of seismic sensors to map a deep-Earth area of melting carbon covering 1.8 million square kilometers. Situated under the Western US, 350km beneath Earth's surface, the discovered melting region challenges accepted understanding of how much carbon Earth contains -- much more than previously understood. 

02/13/2017 01:37 PM
New data from NOAA GOES-16's Space Environment In-Situ Suite (SEISS) instrument
The new Space Environment In-Situ Suite (SEISS) instrument onboard NOAA's GOES-16 is working and successfully sending data back to Earth.

02/10/2017 08:19 PM
50+ Year-Old Protein Volume Paradox Resolved
New research makes it possible to predict how volume for a given protein will change between the folded and unfolded state. Computations accurately predict how a protein will react to increased pressure, shed light on the inner-workings of life in the ocean depths, and may also offer insights into alien life.

02/10/2017 06:09 PM
Litter levels in the depths of the Arctic are on the rise
The Arctic has a serious litter problem: in just 10 years, the concentration of marine litter at a deep-sea station in the Arctic Ocean has risen 20-fold, according to researchers.

02/10/2017 06:09 PM
Cold plates and hot melts: New data on history of Pacific Ring of Fire
The movements of Earth's tectonic plates shape the face of our planet. The sinking of one plate beneath another causes volcanism and earthquakes. Scientists have been able to drill and investigate the origin of a subduction zone for the first time in 2014.

02/10/2017 01:45 PM
Sea-level change in Southeast Asia 6,000 years ago has implications for today
Sea level in Southeast Asia fluctuated wildly -- and naturally -- more than 6,000 years ago, twice rising nearly two feet in a period of about 200 years, report researchers.

02/09/2017 09:38 PM
New details of Greenland ice loss revealed
Less than a year after the first research flight kicked off NASA's Oceans Melting Greenland campaign, data from the new program are providing a dramatic increase in knowledge of how Greenland's ice sheet is melting from below.

02/09/2017 09:38 PM
Gas hydrate breakdown unlikely to cause massive greenhouse gas release
A recent interpretive review of scientific literature sheds light on the interactions of gas hydrates and climate.

02/09/2017 07:25 PM
Fossil record should help guide conservation in a changing world
A group of biologists, paleobiologists, lawyers, policymakers and writers is urging conservationists not only to save species, but also to preserve a diverse array of ecosystem structures and functions in the face of rising populations and changing climate. This could include allowing some species to disappear from some areas if that means a more resilient environment able to respond to warming temperatures and habitat loss, according to researchers.

02/09/2017 06:34 PM
New research to help preserve the benefits people receive from nature
Humans rely on things that come from nature -- including clean air, water, food, and timber. But how can we tell if these natural services that people rely on, are at risk of being lost, potentially permanently?

02/09/2017 06:34 PM
Subsea mining moves closer to shore
Mining in the deep sea is technically very challenging and at present not economically feasible. However, deposits in coastal areas beneath the shallow, more accessible continental shelf could help to meet the growing demand for mineral resources, conclude researchers.

02/09/2017 06:33 PM
Ancient Earth as a model for studying hazy exoplanets
For astronomers trying to understand which distant planets might have habitable conditions, the role of atmospheric haze has been hazy. To help sort it out, a team of researchers has been looking to Earth - specifically Earth during the Archean era, an epic 1-1/2-billion-year period early in our planet's history.

02/09/2017 03:10 PM
Long-term impacts of deep-sea mineral mining
Deep-sea nodule mining will cause long-lasting damage to deep-sea life. This study was the first to review all the available information on the impacts of small-scale sea-floor disturbances simulating mining activity. It found clear impacts on marine ecosystems from deep-sea nodule mining activities, which lasted at least for decades.

02/08/2017 09:46 PM
Why the ocean has absorbed more carbon over the past decade
With the ocean absorbing more carbon dioxide over the past decade, less of the greenhouse gas is reaching the Earth's atmosphere. That's decidedly good news, but it comes with a catch: Rising levels of carbon dioxide in the ocean promote acidification, which breaks down the calcium carbonate shells of some marine organisms.

02/08/2017 06:18 PM
Deep groundwater aquifers respond rapidly to climate variability
Changes in climate can rapidly impact even the deepest freshwater aquifers according to hydrologists. The researchers found that responses to climate variations can be detected in deep groundwater aquifers faster than expected -- in many cases within a year.

02/08/2017 04:16 PM
Current climate change models understate the problem, scientists argue
A new study on the relationship between people and the planet shows that climate change is only one of many inter-related threats to the Earth's capacity to support human life.

02/07/2017 07:26 PM
Broader updrafts in severe storms may increase chance of damaging hail
Strong updrafts -- currents of rising air -- in severe thunderstorms are a prerequisite for hail formation. The width of these updrafts may be an indicator of an increased hail threat, according to meteorologists.

02/07/2017 03:53 PM
Tiny organisms with a massive impact
Although diatoms are incredibly small, they have a significant impact on the dispersal of nutrients and trace elements in global marine waters.

02/07/2017 02:28 PM
Shifting monsoon altered early cultures in China, study says
The annual summer monsoon that drops rain onto East Asia, an area with about a billion people, has shifted dramatically in the distant past, at times moving northward by as much as 400 kilometers and doubling rainfall in that northern reach. The monsoon's changes over the past 10,000 years likely altered the course of early human cultures in China, say the authors of a new study.

02/07/2017 02:28 PM
Planet's atmospheric oxygen rose through glaciers
A 'Snowball Earth' event actually took place 100 million years earlier than previously projected, outlines a new report.

02/07/2017 02:27 PM
What happened to the sun over 7,000 years ago?
By analyzing the level of a carbon isotope in tree rings from a specimen of an ancient bristlecone pine, researchers have revealed that the sun exhibited a unique pattern of activity in 5480 BC. By comparing this event with other similar but more recent phenomena, they reported that this event may have involved a change in the sun's magnetic activity, or a number of successive solar burst emissions.

02/06/2017 06:04 PM
Earth's hottest, most buoyant mantle plumes draw from a primordial reservoir older than the moon
Only the hottest, most buoyant mantle plumes draw from a primordial reservoir deep in Earth, a geochemist has concluded.

02/06/2017 01:42 PM
Research on short-term effects of air pollution on the health of airways of children with chronic respiratory complaints
Starting in 2017, researchers will commence their study on the effects of days with high air pollution on respiratory complaints, medication use and lung function of children suffering from chronic respiratory complaints such as wheezing or asthma.

02/06/2017 01:38 PM
Scientist studies whether solar storms cause animal beachings
A long-standing mystery among marine biologists is why otherwise healthy whales, dolphins, and porpoises -- collectively known as cetaceans -- end up getting stranded along coastal areas worldwide. Could severe solar storms, which affect Earth's magnetic fields, be confusing their internal compasses and causing them to lose their way?

02/03/2017 04:02 PM
China to protect areas of high ecological importance identified by researchers
Scientists have determined ecologically valuable areas within China. The country plans to protect these areas as part of an ecological initiative.

02/03/2017 04:01 PM
Myth busted: No link between gigantic asteroid break-up, rise in biodiversity
Some 470 million years ago, during the middle part of the geological period known as the Ordovician, an asteroid collision took place somewhere between Mars and Jupiter. The collision caused an explosion that sent a cascade of meteorites towards Earth.

02/03/2017 03:15 PM
Study traces black carbon sources in the Russian Arctic
Transport and residential heating could be responsible for a greater contribution of black carbon in the Russian Arctic compared to gas flaring or power plants, according to new research.