Taxonomy term

bethany augliere

Liverworts, not moss, dominated Earth's early terrestrial ecosystems

Moss, the springy green plant that blankets forest floors, has been heralded as the generator of large amounts of oxygen to Earth’s atmosphere during the Paleozoic. In a new study, however, researchers suggest that it could have been the overlooked relative of moss — liverworts — that dominated early terrestrial ecosystems and thus had more to do with reducing high carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere at the time and cooling climate globally.

 
08 Feb 2017

Burning grass releases more nitrogen pollution than burning wood

Smoke from fires — whether from wildfires or from residential and agricultural grass and crop burning — carries pollutants into the air that affect climate and can be toxic to humans and ecosystems. According to new research, smoke from crop and grass fires appears to contain higher levels of some hazardous nitrogen-containing chemicals than wood fire smoke. The work also calls into question whether certain chemicals commonly used as distinctive signatures of biomass burning are still valid.

06 Feb 2017

Robotic mussels track temperature change

Among the crashing waves of rocky shorelines, tiny robotic mussels are providing scientists with insight into climate change impacts on marine life. The battery-powered “biomimics” hide among real mussels, with internal thermometers to estimate temperatures of their nearby living neighbors. Mussels’ body temperatures are changing with solar radiation, cloud cover and wind speed, says Brian Helmuth, a marine ecologist from Northeastern University in Boston. Because of this, the mussels’ body temperatures are generally much higher than the temperature of the surrounding air during exposure at low tide.
 

01 Feb 2017

Fungi stabilize steep slopes

The steep slopes of Switzerland’s high Alps are unstable — with loose soil and few plants — which poses hazards such as shallow landslides. In a new study, researchers have found that the symbiosis between plant roots and mycorrhizal fungi helps ground gravelly hillsides, suggesting a possible eco-engineering tool to stabilize the slopes.

30 Jan 2017

Early birds quacked

Researchers have found the oldest-known avian voice box from an ancient bird that lived more than 66 million years ago. Scientists found the vocal structure, called a syrinx, while examining the fossil remains of a specimen of Vegavis iaai, a Late Cretaceous diving bird similar to modern ducks and geese. The finding suggests that the prehistoric bird may have “quacked” like modern ducks, says Julia Clarke, a paleontologist at the University of Texas at Austin and lead author of the new study in Nature.

27 Jan 2017

Scientists map U.S. geoelectric hazards

During solar storms, electrons and protons collide with Earth’s atmosphere, disrupting the geomagnetic field and sometimes creating the flashing waves of colorful light in the night sky we know as auroras. But these same storms — if strong enough — have the potential to severely damage power grids.
 

19 Jan 2017

Geomedia: Music: The sounds of the sea

At the ocean’s edge, the crash of waves against the shore is a familiar sound. It might be rhythmic, but it’s not particularly melodious. There are, however, a few spots around the world where the tides, waves and wind make actual music, thanks to acoustic man-made structures that use the movements of seawater to produce sound. Currently, three of these so-called tidal organs have been built, one each in Croatia, England and the United States.

13 Jan 2017

Scientists find earthquakes trigger instantaneous aftershocks on neighboring faults

Earthquake aftershocks may be more unpredictable than previously thought. Researchers studying past quakes say they have identified a new class of aftershocks that can occur within seconds to minutes after the mainshock on neighboring faults.

29 Dec 2016

Seafloor topography drives Earth's great conveyor belt

In the Southern Ocean, the world’s largest current in terms of volume transport — the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) — encircles Antarctica and connects the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific ocean basins, as it flows from west to east. The ACC influences ocean circulation and global climate, as it rises from the deep to interact with the atmosphere. In a new study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, researchers have directly measured how seafloor topography affects the current’s structure — something that had only been theorized previously.

20 Dec 2016

Life-saving diplomacy: The Volcano Disaster Assistance Program at thirty

The Volcano Disaster Assistance Program is the world’s only rapid-response team of volcanologists that works around the world to prevent eruptions from becoming disasters. The program has been deploying people and equipment to volcanic crises for three decades. |

18 Dec 2016

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