Ecology articlesNew robot travels across the seafloor to monitor the impact of climate change on deep-sea ecosystems
Like the robotic rovers Spirit and Opportunity, which wheeled tirelessly across the dusty surface of Mars, a new robot spent most of July traveling across the muddy ocean bottom, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) off the California coast. This robot, the Benthic Rover, has been providing scientists with an entirely new view of life on the deep seafloor. It will also give scientists a way to document the effects of climate change on the deep sea. The Rover is the result of four years of hard work by a team of engineers and scientists led by MBARI project engineer Alana Sherman and marine biologist Ken Smith.
Climate effects of atmospheric haze a little less... Hazy
Scientists have used a new approach to sharpen the understanding of one of the most uncertain of mankind's influences on climate-the effects of atmospheric "haze," the tiny airborne particles from pollution, biomass burning, and other sources.
Impact of renewable energy on our oceans must be investigated
Scientists from the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth are calling for urgent research to understand the impact of renewable energy developments on marine life. The study, now published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, highlights potential environmental benefits and threats resulting from marine renewable energy, such as off-shore wind farms and wave and tidal energy conversion devices.
Arctic Sea ice reaches minimum extent for 2009, third lowest ever recorded
The Arctic sea ice cover appears to have reached its minimum extent for the year, the third-lowest recorded since satellites began measuring sea ice extent in 1979, according to the University of Colorado at Boulder's National Snow and Ice Data Center.
Scientists create first complete image of Himalayan fault, subduction zone
An international team of researchers has created the most complete seismic image of the Earth's crust and upper mantle beneath the rugged Himalaya Mountains, in the process discovering some unusual geologic features that may explain how the region has evolved.
Hot microbes cause groundwater cleanup rethink
CSIRO researchers have discovered that micro-organisms that help break down contaminants under the soil can actually get too hot for their own good.
New data illuminates antarctic ice cap formation
New carbon dioxide data confirm that formation of the Antarctic ice-cap some 33.5 million years ago was due to declining carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Rosetta stone of supervolcanoes discovered in Italian Alps
Scientists have found the "Rosetta Stone" of supervolcanoes, those giant pockmarks in the Earth's surface produced by rare and massive explosive eruptions that rank among nature's most violent events. The eruptions produce devastation on a regional scale - and possibly trigger climatic and environmental effects at a global scale.
End of an era: new ruling decides the boundaries of Earth's history
After decades of debate and four years of investigation an international body of earth scientists has formally agreed to move the boundary dates for the prehistoric Quaternary age by 800,000 years, reports the Journal of Quaternary Science.
Denver to Barcelona: global cities and greenhouse gas emissions
Denver released the largest amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) and Barcelona the smallest amount in a new study documenting how differences in climate, population density and other factors affect GHG emissions in global cities. The study, which could identify ways in which cities can reduce GHG emissions, is scheduled for October 1 issue of ACS' Environmental Science & Technology, a semi-monthly journal.
World's river deltas sinking due to human activity
A new study led by the University of Colorado at Boulder indicates most of the world's low-lying river deltas are sinking from human activity, making them increasingly vulnerable to flooding from rivers and ocean storms and putting tens of millions of people at risk.
More to solar cycle than sunspots; sun also bombards earth with high-speed streams of wind
Challenging conventional wisdom, new research finds that the number of sunspots provides an incomplete measure of changes in the Sun's impact on Earth over the course of the 11-year solar cycle. The study, led by scientists at the High Altitude Observatory of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the University of Michigan, finds that Earth was bombarded last year with high levels of solar energy at a time when the Sun was in an unusually quiet phase and sunspots had virtually disappeared.
Arctic bacteria: some like it hot
In subzero sediments off the island of Spitsbergen, scientists from the German Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology have detected high numbers of thermophilic (heat-loving) bacteria that are adapted to live in much warmer habitats. These thermophiles exist in the Arctic as spores - dormant forms that withstand adverse conditions for long periods, waiting for better times. Experimental incubations at 40 to 60 degrees Celsius revive the Arctic spores, which appear to have been transported from distant hot spots. The discovery could shed new light on one of microbiology's great hypotheses: "Everything is everywhere, but, the environment selects."
Coal-mining hazard resembles explosive volcanic eruption, study shows
Worldwide, thousands of workers die every year from mining accidents, and instantaneous coal outbursts in underground mines are among the major killers. But although scientists have been investigating coal outbursts for more than 150 years, the precise mechanism is still unknown.
Scientists measure the rate of ascent of volcanic magma
Plinian volcanic eruptions are notoriously destructive. These very powerful eruptions often occur after long periods of quiescence and are preceded by relatively short periods of seismic restiveness. Volcanoes that tend to show this kind of behaviour include Mount Vesuvius in Italy, Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines and Mt. St. Helens in the USA. Professor Donald Dingwell of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) in Munich, together with Professor Jonathan Castro of the University of Orléans in France, has now been able experimentally to measure the speed with which molten rock rises during a Plinian eruption.
Princeton paleomagnetists put controversy to rest
Princeton University scientists have shown that, in ancient times, the Earth's magnetic field was structured like the two-pole model of today, suggesting that the methods geoscientists use to reconstruct the geography of early land masses on the globe are accurate. The findings may lead to a better understanding of historical continental movement, which relates to changes in climate.
Do dust particles curb climate change?
A knowledge gap exists in the area of climate research: for decades, scientists have been asking themselves whether, and to what extent man-made aerosols, that is, dust particles suspended in the atmosphere, enlarge the cloud cover and thus curb climate warming. Research has made little or no progress on this issue. Two scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg (MPI-M) and the American National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report in the journal Nature that the interaction between aerosols, clouds and precipitation is strongly dependent on factors that have not been adequately researched up to now. They urge the adoption of a research concept that will close this gap in the knowledge.
Climate models don't tell the full story
Climate models that predict heavy rainfall don't give the whole picture, according to the results of a study by NWO scientist Martin Ziegler. He examined climate changes that have taken place over the past 800,000 years, and discovered that the melting icebergs in the North Atlantic and changes in the El Niño Southern Oscillation have a great influence on the intensity of monsoon rains.
Arctic now traps 25 percent of world's carbon... but that could change
The arctic could potentially alter the Earth's climate by becoming a possible source of global atmospheric carbon dioxide. The arctic now traps or absorbs up to 25 percent of this gas but climate change could alter that amount, according to a study published in the November issue of Ecological Monographs.
Giant impact near India, not Mexico, may have doomed dinosaurs
A mysterious basin off the coast of India could be the largest, multi-ringed impact crater the world has ever seen. And if a new study is right, it may have been responsible for killing the dinosaurs off 65 million years ago.