Earth Science

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

  • Winter cold extremes linked to high-altitude polar vortex weakening
    on September 22, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    When the strong winds that circle the Arctic slacken, cold polar air can escape and cause extreme winter chills in parts of the Northern hemisphere. A new study finds that these weak states have become more persistent over the past four decades and can be linked to cold winters in Russia and Europe. […]

  • Diamonds show Earth still capable of ‘superhot’ surprises
    on September 21, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    Diamonds may be ‘forever’ but some may have formed more recently than geologists thought. A study of 26 diamonds, formed under extreme melting conditions in the Earth’s mantle, found two populations, one of which has geologically ‘young’ ages. The results show that certain volcanic events on Earth may still be able to create super-heated conditions previously thought to have only existed early in the planet’s history before it cooled. The findings may have implications for diamond prospecting. […]

  • Mathematics predicts a sixth mass extinction
    on September 20, 2017 at 10:21 pm

    Scientists have analyzed significant changes in the carbon cycle over the last 540 million years, including the five mass extinction events. They have identified 'thresholds of catastrophe' in the carbon cycle that, if exceeded, would lead to an unstable environment, and ultimately, mass extinction. […]

  • Wave Glider surfs across stormy Drake Passage in Antarctica
    on September 20, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    A hardy ocean drone made a first-ever attempt to surf across Antarctica's stormy Drake Passage gathering data about ocean mixing. […]

  • Fly away home? Ice age may have clipped bird migration
    on September 20, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    The onset of the last ice age may have forced some bird species to abandon their northerly migrations for thousands of years, says new research led by an ornithologist. The study challenges a long-held presumption that birds merely shortened their migratory flights when glaciers advanced south to cover much of North America and northern Europe about 21,000 years ago. […]

  • Animal acoustic activity decline shows forest fire pollution wreaks havoc on wildlife
    on September 20, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    Forest fires in Southeast Asia during the El Niño droughts of 2015 caused considerable disruption to the biodiversity of the region due to the smoke-induced 'haze' they created, according to new research. […]

  • Atmospheric effects of Arctic snowmelt
    on September 20, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    Researchers are exploring the changing chemistry of the Arctic's atmosphere to help answer the question of what happens as snow and ice begin to melt. […]

  • End-of-summer Arctic sea ice extent is eighth lowest on record
    on September 19, 2017 at 8:01 pm

    Arctic sea ice appeared to have reached its yearly lowest extent on Sept. 13, scientists have reported. Analysis of satellite data showed that at 1.79 million square miles (4.64 million square kilometers), this year's Arctic sea ice minimum extent is the eighth lowest in the consistent long-term satellite record, which began in 1978. […]

  • Changes in non-extreme precipitation may have not-so-subtle consequences
    on September 19, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    Extreme floods and droughts receive a lot of attention. But what happens when precipitation -- or lack thereof -- occurs in a more measured way? […]

  • A cereal crop survives heat and drought
    on September 18, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    Scientists have published the genome sequence of Pearl millet, a drought resistant crop plant most important in arid regions in Africa and Asia. This plant is important to small and medium farmers who grow the plant without larger irrigation. Pearl millet delivers a good harvest index under drought and heat conditions when rice, maize or wheat already have no grains anymore. […]

  • Urgent emission reductions needed to achieve 1.5°C warming limit
    on September 18, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    Significant emission reductions are required if we are to achieve one of the key goals of the Paris Agreement, and limit the increase in global average temperatures to 1.5°C; a new partnership warns. […]

  • Changes in Earth's crust caused oxygen to fill the atmosphere
    on September 18, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    New research has uncovered a direct link between changes in the earth's crust three billion years ago and the introduction of free oxygen to the atmosphere. Without these changes, oxygen could have been suppressed in earth's crust forever, so the findings help explain the emergence of life on our planet. […]

  • 5,000 deaths annually from Diesel-gate in Europe
    on September 18, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    Excess emissions from diesel cars cause about 5,000 premature deaths annually across Europe, a new study shows. Higher exposure to secondary particles and ozone can be traced back to excess NOx emissions from diesel cars, vans and light commercial vehicles. With the EU's vehicle emission limits achieved on the road about 5,000 premature deaths could be avoided annually. If diesel cars emitted as little NOx as petrol cars, about 7,500 premature deaths could be avoided annually. […]

  • Studies of ‘Crater Capital' in the Baltics show impactful history
    on September 18, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    Studies of craters in the Baltics (Estonia) are giving insights into the many impacts that have peppered the Earth over its long history. In southeastern Estonia, scientists have dated charcoal from trees destroyed in an impact to prove a common origin for two small craters, named Illumetsa. A third submarine crater located on the seabed in the Gulf of Finland has been measured and dated with with precision. […]

  • Devilish source of dust in atmosphere of Earth and Mars
    on September 18, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    Swirling columns of sand and dust, known as dust devils, are a feature of desert areas on Mars and on Earth. Now, a study of terrestrial dust devils has shown that around two thirds of the fine particles lifted by these vortices can remain suspended in the atmosphere and be transported around the globe. The findings have implications for the climate and weather of both planets and, potentially, human health here on Earth. […]

  • Black Sea water temperatures may buck global trend
    on September 15, 2017 at 8:29 pm

    Scientists have successfully simulated the Black Sea’s long term currents, salt water content and temperature for the first time. […]

  • Arctic sea ice once again shows considerable melting
    on September 15, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    This September, the extent of Arctic sea ice shrank to roughly 4.7 million square kilometres, scientists have determined. […]

  • Forest fires are not limited to hot or temperate climates
    on September 14, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    Evidence of wildfires dating back 20,000 years was recently discovered in the Massif du Queyras, in the heart of the French Alps, 2,240 meters above sea level. This discovery echoes the recent wildfires in the Arctic tundra, where the presence of trees have become increasingly common. […]

  • Measuring a crucial mineral in the mantle
    on September 13, 2017 at 11:29 pm

    New research resolves 40 years of debate about the strength of olivine, the most abundant mineral in the Earth's mantle. Measuring the strength of olivine is critical to understanding how strong tectonic plates are, which, in turn, matters to how plates break and create subduction zones. […]

  • Earth's oldest trees in climate-induced race up the tree line
    on September 13, 2017 at 11:24 pm

    Bristlecone pine and limber pine trees in the Great Basin region of the western United States are like two very gnarled, old men in a slow-motion race up the mountaintop, and climate change is the starting gun, according to a new study. The study shows that the tree line has been steadily moving upslope over the past 50 years in the Great Basin. […]

  • Ancient tree reveals cause of spike in Arctic temperature
    on September 12, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    A kauri tree trapped in a New Zealand swamp for 30,000 years may have overturned the idea that a slowdown in ocean currents in the North Atlantic may be entirely responsible for Dansgaard-Oeschger events and the characteristic bi-polar see-saw, which sees the Antarctica cool while the Arctic warms during glacial periods. The research reveals a mechanism that generates a 20,000 km long atmospheric bridge, reaching from Antarctica to the Arctic. […]

  • Rapid climate changes across northern hemisphere in the earliest Middle Pleistocene
    on September 12, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    By studying climate changes that took place thousands of years ago, we can better understand the global climate system and predict Earth's future climate. A multi-organization research team has discovered evidence of rapid climate changes on a millennial-to-centennial scale that occurred 780 to 760 thousand years ago. […]

  • Earthquake triggers 'slow motion' quakes in New Zealand
    on September 11, 2017 at 4:27 pm

    Slow slip events, a type of slow motion earthquake that occurs over days to weeks, are thought to be capable of triggering larger, potentially damaging earthquakes. In a new study, scientists have documented the first clear-cut instance of the reverse -- a massive earthquake immediately triggering a series of large slow slip events. […]

  • How openings in Antarctic sea ice affect worldwide climate
    on September 11, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    In a new analysis of climate models, researchers reveal the significant global effects that seemingly anomalous polynyas, or openings in sea ice, can have. Their findings indicate that heat escaping from the ocean through these openings impacts sea and atmospheric temperatures and wind patterns around the globe and even rainfall around the tropics. […]

  • Cold region 'tipping point' now inevitable
    on September 11, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    The decline of cold regions called periglacial zones is now inevitable due to climate change, researchers say. […]

  • USA threatened by more frequent flooding
    on September 11, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    The East Coast of the United States is threatened by more frequent flooding in the future. According to this study, the states of Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina are most at risk. Their coastal regions are being immersed by up to three millimeters per year -- among other things, due to human intervention. […]

  • Half-a-billion-year-old fossils shed light animal evolution on Earth
    on September 11, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    Scientists have discovered traces of life more than half-a-billion years old that could change the way we think about how all animals evolved on Earth. […]

  • Biodiversity just as powerful as climate change for healthy ecosystems
    on September 11, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    Biodiversity is proving to be one of humanity's best defenses against extreme weather. In past experiments, diversity has fostered healthier, more productive ecosystems, like shoreline vegetation that guards against hurricanes. However, many experts doubted whether these experiments would hold up in the real world. A study offers a decisive answer: biodiversity's power in the wild surpasses experimental predictions, in some cases topping even effects of climate. […]

  • Ancient wetlands offer window into climate change
    on September 11, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    Environmental researchers have uncovered a wealth of information about a unique part of Australia that offers never-before-seen insights into climate change since the last ice age. […]

  • Ship exhaust makes oceanic thunderstorms more intense
    on September 7, 2017 at 6:27 pm

    Thunderstorms directly above two of the world's busiest shipping lanes are significantly more powerful than storms in areas of the ocean where ships don't travel, according to new research. […]