Taxonomy term


Surveying forests from afar

Traditional surveys of forest health and diversity take hours of hiking and sampling by scientists who can only cover relatively small areas. Satellites, meanwhile, can survey large swaths of land, collecting information about forests in a fraction of the time that a ground survey might take. But the resolution and types of satellite data available don’t always allow for detailed studies. Now, a team of ecologists is staking out the middle ground by developing airborne laser scanning techniques to create high-resolution maps of tree species diversity to monitor changes in forest ecosystems.

22 Mar 2018

Globe-trotting bacteria found at both poles

The Arctic and Antarctica, separated by more than 15,000 kilometers, may be geographic opposites but they share many similarities, including their diverse arrays of bacteria and other microscopic life forms. A new study looking at the DNA of bacteria from both poles has found remarkable similarities between the two regions’ bacterial diversity, including some of the same species.

21 Mar 2018

Disrupting the deep: Ocean warming reaches the abyss

Since the 1970s, just 7 percent of the heat associated with humancaused warming has melted snow and ice or warmed the land and atmosphere. The other 93 percent was absorbed by the oceans, where temperatures are now increasing at nearly all latitudes and depths, threatening to fundamentally alter our planet by disrupting ocean circulation. 
20 Mar 2018

Gyres spin up, currents get muddled

In addition to polynya formation and warming-induced surface freshening, other factors may also impact open-ocean convection in the Southern Ocean. The warming atmosphere is shifting global climatic zones and their associated wind fields poleward in both hemispheres. In the Weddell Sea Gyre, one of two clockwise-spinning circulation patterns in the Southern Ocean, this shift has resulted in a dramatic increase in wind stress curl (the strength of the wind’s influence on ocean water flow) over the past two years.

20 Mar 2018

Carbon emissions spike when continents rift

The vast majority of Earth’s carbon is stored in the planet’s interior. This buried carbon is not isolated from the surface over geologic timescales, however; some of it is released back into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and other gases when volcanic eruptions occur above subduction zones or island arcs.

19 Mar 2018

LIP split by South Atlantic breakup was sourced from deep

Massive volumes of rock called large igneous provinces (LIPs) have formed many times throughout Earth’s history, fed by some of the planet’s mightiest volcanic events. The volcanic eruptions, sometimes lasting millions of years and pouring hundreds of thousands of cubic kilometers of lava onto the surface, have influenced continental breakups, past climate change and mass extinction events. For everything that’s known about LIPs, however, many questions about them remain, including how far below the surface the erupted magma originate. In a recent study, researchers report that the origins of the Paraná-Etendeka LIP likely lay deep in Earth’s interior.

16 Mar 2018

Geomedia: On the Web: How will melting ice impact your city?

The relationship between melting glaciers and rising sea levels is best described as: “It’s complicated.” A new online tool shows just how counterintuitive predictions of how melting land-ice will affect coasts can be.

16 Mar 2018

Geologic Column: Pie on Pi Day, and Einstein's lesser-known legacy

March 14 is the birthday of Albert Einstein and also Pi Day, which celebrates the mathematical constant 3.14 that features in some of the physicist’s famous equations
14 Mar 2018

Geomedia: Books: "Half-Earth" is only half-compelling

Edward O. Wilson, professor emeritus and honorary curator in entomology at Harvard, is a scientist of acclaim and renown, a naturalist and experimentalist who has made astounding discoveries about the natural world. These discoveries range from small details about ant communication to much larger ideas related to sociobiology, the co-evolution of genes and culture, island biogeography and biophilia, for example. His work is widely known, in large part, because he’s a talented and prolific writer, and he has twice won the Pulitzer Prize.

13 Mar 2018

Geomedia: Books: "Aerial Geology": A stunning and informative addition to any coffee table

My fellow EARTH Magazine contributor Mary Caperton Morton is the author of “Aerial Geology,” a beautiful and massive tome that profiles a hundred geologically interesting locations across North America. Mary was kind enough to forward me a copy for review, and I was delighted to flip through its gorgeous pages. It’s a visual feast, with a mix of satellite imagery, aerial photography and ground-based photos. Each site is allotted two to four pages for photos and Mary’s written descriptions, which are sometimes augmented by excellent schematic illustrations by the talented Kat Cantner, the illustrator for EARTH and the American Geosciences Institute (which publishes EARTH).

13 Mar 2018