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People of the Ice

“We do not come to Antarctica because we are in love with Antarctica. We come to Antarctica because we want a mystery to solve, and we love a challenge. And there’s one here.”

With those words, Adam Lewis, a glacial geologist from North Dakota State University, sums up the human story at the heart of “Ice People,” an austere, unpretentious and often gorgeous documentary about scientists working at the end of the world.

09 Jan 2009

Hurricane Ike sent Galveston's beaches out to sea

On Sept. 12, 2008, Galveston was a picture-perfect seaside Texas town, with an extensive stretch of beach lined with beautiful homes. But a day later, when Hurricane Ike roared across Galveston Island, the storm surge flooded the barrier island, washing away houses, roads and tons of beach sand. Now researchers have figured out where all that sand went.

06 Jan 2009

Underwater basalt formation looks like a city wall

Blogging on EARTH

The concept of sunken, undersea cities has long been present in almost every society, especially in the form of myths such as Atlantis. And now a recent discovery in the Taiwan Strait yields video of a geologic formation that resembles an ancient city wall.

Jeng Ming-hsiou, a biodiversity researcher and professor at the Academia Sinica in Taipei, Taiwan, discovered the formation. It is 200 meters long and 10 meters high and resembles tightly-packed pillars. He said it is basaltic and probably formed from a volcanic eruption around 1,800 years ago.

05 Jan 2009

Guatemalan landslide kills 33

A landslide in northern Guatemala killed at least 33 people Sunday at about 10:30 a.m. local time. With between 40 and 60 people still missing, rescue attempts have been hampered by continual falling rock and threats of further landslides.

05 Jan 2009

Comet finished off North American big game animals, cooled the planet?

Fires from a comet shower may have killed off the big game in North America about 13,000 years ago, scientists say. Those extinctions have long been attributed either to an abrupt return to glaciation known as the Younger Dryas event or to over-hunting. But now, a team of scientists has found tiny, nanoparticle-sized diamonds in sediments from the Younger Dryas — signs that a cosmic impact may have ultimately been behind both the cold period and the extinctions.

02 Jan 2009

Swarm of earthquakes rattles Yellowstone

An abnormally high number of earthquakes has shaken up Yellowstone National Park in the past week. Since Friday, a “swarm” of more than 250 low-magnitude, shallow quakes has repeatedly rattled an area under Yellowstone Lake, with the highest-magnitude tremor — a magnitude-3.9 quake — on Saturday. The seismic activity has raised fears that the quakes may foreshadow a larger earthquake, or a volcanic eruption — but scientists say there isn’t yet reason to fear an eruption.

31 Dec 2008

Stonehenge's Mysterious Stones

A tale of glaciers, man, rocks and North America

Out of the mist that blankets the gently rolling hills of Salisbury Plain, Stonehenge rises above the horizon like a haunting beacon. Whatever its original purpose, one thing is certain: The stone monument draws visitors in and stays with them forever.

31 Dec 2008

AGU: Colorado ski industry owes Great Salt Lake thank you note

SAN FRANCISCO — Colorado skiers have long suspected that snowfall is fluffiest when winds blow salt and dust eastward from the Great Salt Lake in Utah. Now that wisdom is confirmed by science.

After measuring cloud particles from plane flights over Colorado, atmospheric chemist Kim Prather of Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla and colleagues determined that nascent snow largely formed as a result of suspended Utah salt.

In order for snow and rain droplets to form, water needs a particle base on which to accumulate. This process is called nucleation.

20 Dec 2008

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