Earth Science News -- ScienceDaily

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

04/20/2018 10:06 PM
Tiny microenvironments in the ocean hold clues to global nitrogen cycle
A new study shows that nitrogen-feeding organisms exist all over the deep ocean, and not just in large oxygen-depleted 'dead zones,' changing the way we think about the delicate nitrogen cycle.

04/20/2018 06:14 PM
Grassland plants react unexpectedly to high levels of carbon dioxide
Plants are responding in unexpected ways to increased carbon dioxide in the air, according to a 20-year study.

04/20/2018 05:29 PM
Rare earth magnet recycling is a grind -- this new process takes a simpler approach
A new recycling process turns discarded hard disk drive magnets into new magnet material in a few steps, and tackles both the economic and environmental issues typically associated with mining e-waste for valuable materials.

04/20/2018 05:28 PM
Trees are not as 'sound asleep' as you may think
High-precision three-dimensional surveying of 21 different species of trees has revealed a yet unknown cycle of subtle canopy movement during the night. The 'sleep cycles' differed from one species to another. Detection of anomalies in overnight movement could become a future diagnostic tool to reveal stress or disease in crops.

04/18/2018 07:48 PM
Meteorite diamonds tell of a lost planet
Scientists have examined a slice from a meteorite that contains large diamonds formed at high pressure. The study shows that the parent body from which the meteorite came was a planetary embryo of a size between Mercury and Mars.

04/18/2018 07:15 PM
Study reveals new Antarctic process contributing to sea level rise and climate change
A new study has revealed a previously undocumented process where melting glacial ice sheets change the ocean in a way that further accelerates the rate of ice melt and sea level rise. The research found that glacial meltwater makes the ocean's surface layer less salty and more buoyant, preventing deep mixing in winter and allowing warm water at depth to retain its heat and further melt glaciers from below.

04/18/2018 02:20 PM
Bugged out by climate change
Warmer summer and fall seasons and fewer winter freeze-thaw events have led to changes in the relative numbers of different types of bugs in the Arctic. The study relies on the longest-standing, most comprehensive data set on arctic arthropods in the world today: a catalogue of almost 600,000 flies, wasps, spiders and other creepy-crawlies collected at the Zackenberg field station on the northeast coast of Greenland from 1996-2014.

04/17/2018 08:56 PM
Marine fish won an evolutionary lottery 66 million years ago
Why do the Earth's oceans contain such a staggering diversity of fish of so many different sizes, shapes, colors and ecologies? The answer, biologists report, dates back 66 million years ago, when a six-mile-wide asteroid crashed to Earth, wiping out the dinosaurs and approximately 75 percent of animal and plant species worldwide.

04/17/2018 04:56 PM
More than 12,000 marine creatures uncovered during West Java deep-sea exploration
Scientists who participated in the South Java Deep Sea Biodiversity Expedition 2018 had collected more than 12,000 creatures during their 14-day voyage to survey the unexplored deep seas off the southern coast of West Java, Indonesia.

04/17/2018 02:40 PM
Giant group of octopus moms discovered in the deep sea
At the bottom of the ocean, scientists discovered hundreds of small pink octopuses and their eggs. The colonies were in warmer water than is healthy for octopuses, which means that they probably won't survive. That makes the scientists think there are probably even bigger colonies thriving in the cool rock crevices nearby.

04/16/2018 11:56 PM
Scientists decipher the magma bodies under Yellowstone
Using supercomputer modeling, scientists have unveiled a new explanation for the geology underlying recent seismic imaging of magma bodies below Yellowstone National Park.

04/16/2018 07:24 PM
Logging in tropical forests jeopardizing drinking water
Researchers have found that increasing land clearing for logging in Solomon Islands -- even with best management strategies in place -- will lead to unsustainable levels of soil erosion and significant impacts to downstream water quality.

04/16/2018 05:15 PM
Are the media all 'doom and gloom'? Not when it comes to coverage of our oceans
The news media are often accused by adopting a 'doom and gloom' tone, especially when it comes to coverage of the environment. However, a new study on how journalists report on the state of our oceans shows that view may be misguided.

04/16/2018 03:58 PM
Virtual contact lenses for radar satellites
Radar satellites supply the data used to map sea level and ocean currents. However, up until now the radar's 'eyes' have been blind where the oceans are covered by ice. Researchers have now developed a new analysis method to solve this problem.

04/12/2018 08:45 PM
Algae-forestry, bioenergy mix could help make CO2 vanish from thin air
An unconventional mélange of algae, eucalyptus and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage appears to be a quirky ecological recipe. But, scientists have an idea that could use that recipe to help power and provide food protein to large regions of the world -- and simultaneously remove carbon dioxide from Earth's atmosphere.

04/12/2018 07:10 PM
Mountain erosion may add CO2 to the atmosphere
Scientists have long known that steep mountain ranges can draw carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the atmosphere -- as erosion exposes new rock, it also starts a chemical reaction between minerals on hill slopes and CO2 in the air, 'weathering' the rock and using CO2 to produce carbonate minerals like calcite.

04/12/2018 06:08 PM
Mississippi River diversions will produce new land, but more slowly than shoreline is lost
The best solution to sustaining portions of the Mississippi Delta may be river diversions that bring sediment to shrinking coastlines. However, a new study concludes that the rate of land-building will likely be dwarfed by the rate of wetland loss.

04/12/2018 03:29 PM
One-fifth of carbon entering coastal waters of eastern North America is buried
Coastal waters play an important role in the carbon cycle by transferring carbon to the open ocean or burying it in wetland soils and ocean sediments, a new study shows.

04/12/2018 01:57 PM
Lavas in the lab could lead miners to new iron ore deposits
Geologists have discovered that some magmas split into two separate liquids, one of which is very rich in iron. Their findings can help to discover new iron ore deposits for mining.

04/12/2018 01:57 PM
New insight into how Giant's Causeway and Devils Postpile were formed
A new study by geoscientists has identified the temperature at which cooling magma cracks to form geometric columns such as those found at the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland and Devils Postpile in the USA.

04/11/2018 10:41 PM
Scientists discover first super salty subglacial lakes in Canadian Arctic
An analysis of radar data led scientists to an unexpected discovery of two lakes located beneath 550 to 750 meters of ice underneath the Devon Ice Cap, one of the largest ice caps in the Canadian Arctic. They are thought to be the first isolated hypersaline subglacial lakes in the world.

04/11/2018 10:41 PM
The changing chemistry of the Amazonian atmosphere
Researchers have been debating whether nitrogen oxides (NOx) can affect levels of OH radicals in a pristine atmosphere but quantifying that relationship has been difficult. Now, researchers have found that accompanying the increase of NOx concentration from urban pollution, daytime peak OH concentrations in the rainforest skyrocketed, increasing by at least 250 percent. These increased levels of OH concentrations in the Amazon atmosphere could lead to changes in atmospheric chemistry, cloud formation, and rainfall.

04/11/2018 06:16 PM
Atlantic Ocean Circulation at weakest point in 1,600 years
New research provides evidence that a key cog in the global ocean circulation system hasn't been running at peak strength since the mid-1800s and is currently at its weakest point in the past 1,600 years. If the system continues to weaken, it could disrupt weather patterns from the United States and Europe to the African Sahel, and cause more rapid increase in sea level on the US East Coast.

04/11/2018 06:16 PM
Snowfall patterns may provide clues to Greenland Ice Sheet
A new study describes a unique method involving cloud characteristics for measuring snowfall that could help answer some big questions about the Greenland Ice Sheet.

04/11/2018 06:16 PM
Formation of supercontinents and strength of ocean tides
The cyclic strengthening and weakening of ocean tides over tens of millions of years is likely linked to another, longer cycle: the formation of Earth's supercontinents every 400 to 600 million years, according a new study.

04/11/2018 04:10 PM
Wildlife haven of Sulawesi much younger than first thought, according to new research
New research has shed light on the origins of some of South East Asia's most iconic and unique wildlife; the 'deer-pig' (Sulawesi Babirusa), 'warty pig' and the 'miniature buffalo.' In doing so, the research has revealed that Sulawesi, the island paradise where they were discovered, is younger than previously thought.

04/11/2018 04:09 PM
100th meridian: East-west divide between moist and arid parts of U.S. may be shifting
Nearly a century and a half after explorer John Wesley Powell zeroed in on the 100th meridian west as the dividing line between the humid east and arid west of the United States, researchers say he was right -- but that climate change is now moving the line eastward, into the traditionally fertile Midwest. The effects on U.S. farming and other pursuits could be huge.

04/10/2018 06:28 PM
Center of world's marine biodiversity is in danger
Researchers have found that the world's center of biodiversity is under widespread threat of losing a key marine resource.

04/10/2018 06:28 PM
Melting of Arctic mountain glaciers unprecedented in the past 400 years
Glaciers in Alaska's Denali National Park are melting faster than at any time in the past four centuries because of rising summer temperatures, a new study finds.

04/09/2018 05:04 PM
Urban growth leads to shorter, more intense wet seasons in Florida peninsula
New research has found that urban areas throughout the Florida peninsula are experiencing shorter, increasingly intense wet seasons relative to underdeveloped or rural areas.

04/09/2018 04:25 PM
First human migration out of Africa more geographically widespread than previously thought
Scientists have discovered a fossilized finger bone of an early modern human in the Nefud Desert of Saudi Arabia, dating to approximately 90,000 years ago. The discovery is the oldest directly dated Homo sapiens fossil outside of Africa and the Levant and indicates that early dispersals into Eurasia were more expansive than previously thought.

04/09/2018 03:38 PM
Geoengineering risks losers as well as winners for climate and wildfire risks
Artificially altering the climate system to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius could increase the risks of wildfires in some areas, new research suggests.

04/09/2018 03:38 PM
Brewing up Earth's earliest life
Planetary scientists have found that large concentrations of sulfites and bisulfites in shallow lakes may have set the stage for synthesizing Earth's first life forms.

04/09/2018 02:01 PM
Water appeared while Earth was still growing
Cosmo-chemists have performed the largest study to date of oxygen isotopes in lunar rocks, and found a small but measurable difference in the makeup of the moon and Earth. The research proposes that Earth acquired the majority of its water during the main stage of its growth -- which counters a popular theory.

04/06/2018 02:17 PM
How birds can detect Earth's magnetic field
Researchers have made a key discovery about the internal magnetic compass of birds. Biologists have identified a single protein without which birds probably would not be able to orient themselves using the Earth's magnetic field.

04/05/2018 07:09 PM
New source of global nitrogen discovered
Not all of the nitrogen on the planet comes from the atmosphere, according to a new study. Up to a quarter comes from Earth's bedrock. The discovery could greatly improve climate change projections. 

04/05/2018 02:33 PM
Oxygen-deprived black sea provides insights on future carbon budget
Scientists are studying the oxygen-deprived waters of the Black Sea to help answer questions about the deepest parts of the ocean and Earth's climate.

04/05/2018 02:33 PM
Trap, contain and convert
Injecting carbon dioxide deep underground into basalt flows holds promise as an abatement strategy. Now, new research sheds light on exactly what happens underground during the process, illustrating precisely how effective the volcanic rock could be in trapping and converting CO2 emissions.

04/04/2018 08:46 PM
Geologist identifies hidden clues to ancient supercontinents, confirms Pannotia
A geologist who first proposed the now-accepted supercontinent cycle theory in the 1980s has rallied to the cause of one of those supercontinents, Pannotia, that is in danger of being overlooked.

04/04/2018 07:34 PM
Satellites, supercomputers, and machine learning provide real-time crop type data
Corn and soybean fields look similar from space -- at least they used to. But now, scientists have proven a new technique for distinguishing the two crops using satellite data and the processing power of supercomputers.

04/04/2018 06:35 PM
Photosynthetic protein structure that harvests and traps infrared light
Scientists have solved the structure of a photosynthetic protein to reveal how it converts near-infrared light into an electrical charge. The new study gives a pioneering insight into the efficiency and limits of the life-giving process, photosynthesis.

04/04/2018 04:48 PM
Hawaiian-language newspapers illuminate an 1871 hurricane
A major hurricane struck the islands of Hawai'i and Maui on Aug. 9, 1871, and wrought widespread destruction from Hilo to Lahaina. A recent study revealed how historical Hawaiian-language newspapers expand knowledge of this and other natural disasters of the past.

04/04/2018 02:39 PM
More communication needed regarding disposal of pet pharmaceuticals
New research found that more than 60 percent of veterinary care professionals do not counsel their clients when it comes to the environmental stewardship aspect of medicine disposal.

04/03/2018 07:44 PM
New satellite method enables undersea estimates from space
Researchers have developed a statistical method to quantify six important ocean particles from satellite data.

04/03/2018 07:04 PM
Microbiome study suggests marine nematodes are not picky eaters
Researchers report that the likelihood that nematode worms have similar microbial profiles does not correlate with how closely they are related.

04/03/2018 05:40 PM
Seafloor erosion now occurring like coastal land loss
Scientists have discovered that the seafloor from the Mississippi River Delta to the Gulf of Mexico is eroding like the land loss that is occurring on the Louisiana coast.

04/03/2018 05:00 PM
Connection of sea level and groundwater missing link in climate response
About 250 million years ago, when the Earth had no ice caps and the water around the equator was too hot for reptiles, sea level still rose and fell over time. Now, an international team of researchers has developed a way to track sea-level rise and fall and to tease out what caused the changes in the absence of ice sheets.

04/03/2018 04:10 PM
Mantle minerals offer clues to deep Earth's composition
Scientists now have a clearer picture of the Earth's mantle.

04/03/2018 01:58 PM
Great magma erup­tions had two sources
New research may explain controversies related to great magma eruptions.

04/03/2018 12:26 AM
Earth's stable temperature past suggests other planets could also sustain life
Research about temperatures on the early Earth have ranged from a virtually ice-covered surface to a very hot planet that could not support most of today's lifeforms. New computer simulations show fairly moderate average temperatures and more stable ocean pH -- which helps explain how life evolved here, and might emerge on other planets.

04/02/2018 09:08 PM
Vegetation controls the future of the water cycle
Researchers have found that vegetation plays a dominant role in Earth's water cycle, that plants will regulate and dominate the increasing stress placed on continental water resources in the future.

04/02/2018 05:36 PM
Antarctica retreating across the sea floor
Antarctica's great ice sheet is losing ground as it is eroded by warm ocean water circulating beneath its floating edge, a new study has found.   

04/02/2018 05:32 PM
Modeling future earthquake and tsunami risk in southwestern Japan
Geoscience researchers unveil new, GPS-based methods for modeling earthquake-induced tsunamis for southwestern Japan along the Nankai Trough. A Nankai-induced tsunami is likely to hit there in the next few decades, and has the potential to displace four times the number of people affected by the massive Tohoku tsunami of 2011, according to new research.

04/02/2018 04:07 PM
Ice-free Arctic summers could hinge on small climate warming range
A range of less than one degree Fahrenheit (or half a degree Celsius) of climate warming over the next century could make all the difference when it comes to the probability of future ice-free summers in the Arctic, new research shows.

03/30/2018 03:57 PM
Basking sharks gather in large groups off northeast US coast
Groups of basking sharks ranging from as few as 30 to nearly 1,400 individual animals have been observed aggregating in waters from Nova Scotia to Long Island. While individual sightings are fairly common, seeing large groups is not. The reason why the animals congregate has not been clearly determined, and observations of these aggregation events are relatively rare.

03/30/2018 12:08 AM
Detecting volcanic eruptions
A case study of an eruption of Calbuco in Chile was used to evaluate data delivered by infrasound sensors.

03/29/2018 07:10 PM
The Sahara Desert is expanding
The Sahara Desert has expanded by about 10 percent since 1920, according to a new study. The research is the first to assess century-scale changes to the boundaries of the world's largest desert and suggests that other deserts could be expanding as well.

03/29/2018 06:31 PM
NASA visualizes the dance of a melting snowflake
NASA has produced the first three-dimensional numerical model of melting snowflakes in the atmosphere. The model provides a better understanding of how snow melts can help scientists recognize the signature in radar signals of heavier, wetter snow -- the kind that breaks power lines and tree limbs -- and could be a step toward improving predictions of this hazard.

03/29/2018 02:54 PM
One species described multiple times: How taxonomists contribute to biodiversity discovery
While working on a rare little known group of Oriental wasps that likely parasitize the eggs of grasshoppers, locusts or crickets, not only did a team of four entomologists discover four previously unknown species, but they also found that another four species were in fact one and the same. Their study is a fine example for the important role played by taxonomists in puzzling out the Earth's biodiversity.

03/28/2018 07:33 PM
West Greenland Ice Sheet melting at the fastest rate in centuries
New study from the West Greenland Ice Sheet shows that weather patterns and summer warming combine to drive ice loss that is at the highest levels in at least 450 years.