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december 2012

Here comes the solar maximum: What we know - and don't know - about solar storms and their hazards

As solar science continues to advance, researchers are finding new ways to study and forecast the behavior of our star, whose whims endanger our technology-dependent way of life. But what the upcoming peak means for solar storms, and how those storms will affect Earth, remain to be seen.

17 Dec 2012

The long road to understanding our star

The earliest written records of sunspots date back to 165 B.C. in China, but human understanding of the sun didn’t begin making leaps forward until the early 1600s, shortly after the invention of the telescope. That’s when Galileo Galilei, Thomas Harriot and others began drawing sunspots in detail and tracking how they moved and changed.

17 Dec 2012

Down to Earth With: Antarctic meteorite hunters

Dotted with snow dunes and nunatak mountain ranges, Antarctica’s glacial landscapes give the continent an otherworldly feel — but the scenery isn’t what’s truly alien. Antarctica is littered with meteorites, hundreds of thousands of which have been untouched since the moment of impact. For more than 35 years, the volunteer scientists of the Antarctic Search for Meteorites (ANSMET) program have been scouring the icy plains in search of meteorites from meteoroids, the moon and even Mars.

15 Dec 2012

Bare Earth Elements: A geo-themed pop quiz in honor of 12/12/12

Think you have your geo-vocabulary down, or want to test your geo-jargon chops? Be our guest!

Rearrange twelve 12-letter words using 12-word definitions as clues. Some are a little easier, some are a little harder. All are geo-fantabulous!

Email us your name and answers by 11:59 p.m. EST on Dec. 14, 2012, for a chance to win an EARTH Magazine T-shirt.

12 Dec 2012

Highlights of 2012: Outlook on natural gas

Natural gas’s bright future in the United States

Thanks to new developments, we now can affordably produce natural gas from rock formations that previously were inaccessible. And thanks to these developments, we now have more natural gas than ever before. The glut has decreased prices for at least a little while. If recent trends continue — namely if those prices stay low and various political, environmental and economic pressures to transition to a cleaner, domestic source of energy remain in place, it’s likely that over the next decade or two, natural gas will overtake petroleum to become the most popular primary energy source in the U.S.
09 Dec 2012

Two NASA spacecraft reveal ancient underground cracks from moon’s formation

SAN FRANCISCO: The face of the moon has always enchanted humankind, but new data from a NASA mission have given scientists a glimpse of what lies beneath the surface.

06 Dec 2012

Satellites can detect underground nuclear explosions

SAN FRANCISCO: If you’re looking for hints of an underground nuclear explosion, the last place you might think to look is up. But it turns out that the sky is a great place to look for clues, because satellites provide scientists with a way to locate the waves that clandestine weapons tests emit into the upper atmosphere, scientists announced yesterday.

05 Dec 2012

Simple organic compounds detected by Curiosity on Mars

Too early to tell if findings are evidence of biological activity, scientists say

NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover, Curiosity, has detected evidence of simple, chlorinated organic compounds in soil sampled recently from the red planet, project scientists announced Monday from the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. The scientists characterized the finding as very exciting, but they stressed that the results do not provide “definitive" evidence of past or present life on Mars.

03 Dec 2012

Highlights of 2012: Climate 2012 - A window into what to expect for 2013 and beyond?

July 2012 was the hottest month by far for the lower 48 states. Much of the nation faced drought conditions that grew steadily worse throughout the summer, and there were major repercussions for crop yields and food prices. Wildfires were also rampant. The record low snowpack in May 2012 in the Colorado Rockies set the stage for major wildfires in June, with more than 600 homes lost in Colorado alone. Wildfires developed in other regions in July as well, as tremendous record-breaking heat developed in Oklahoma and surrounding areas. Considered individually, the record temperatures, droughts, fires and diminished snowpack are not necessarily alarming and may not signal anything beyond the natural occurrence of a hotter-than-average year. But combined, these indicators are much more significant from a climate standpoint. They highlight that there is more than just natural variability playing a role: Global warming has reared its head in a way that can only be a major warning for the future. So, what can we expect?

25 Nov 2012

Increasing resilience: A national imperative

Over the past several years, the concept of resilience has increasingly captured public attention. Even fitness clubs are advertising resilience to get you in the best shape of your life — able to handle anything that comes your way. The same resiliency that helps individuals — being mentally, physically and financially prepared, and having a disaster-recovery plan — applies to communities and even to nations. In August, a committee of the National Resource Council (NRC) of the National Academies released a report in which the authors looked at how communities can increase their resilience to natural disaster. The committee outlined a plan for becoming more resilient over the next two decades, but that work must begin today.

18 Nov 2012

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