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geology

Toad behavior linked to climate change

Fowler’s toads — listed as endangered in Canada — hibernate for eight months to escape harsh winter conditions. They bury themselves up to a meter deep in the sand dunes along the shore of Lake Erie in Long Point, Ontario, which is the northern extent of their range. In May, they emerge at the surface to breed, in response to warmer air temperature and the lunar cycle. But scientists have now found that the toads are emerging earlier in the spring, according to a new study in Global Change Biology.

08 Nov 2016

Persistent Pacific warmth overshadows El Niño

The El Niño of 2015–2016, dubbed a “super El Niño,” was officially declared over in May, bringing to a close one of the strongest El Niño events on record. Scientists are now unraveling the details of this climate phenomenon, and discovering how it interacted with other unusual ocean conditions to impact surface and subsurface ocean conditions within the California Current System (CCS) — one of the world’s major coastal upwelling zones and a region of great biologic productivity.

06 Nov 2016

Frosted forams foil radiocarbon dating

Climate studies often rely on radiocarbon dating of tiny shells in seafloor sediments to pinpoint the timing of when warming or cooling events began and ended. But a new study indicates that chemical reactions that take place on the seafloor may affect the accuracy of such radiocarbon dates, with potential implications for the dates published by past studies

01 Nov 2016

New magma chamber discovered beneath New Zealand

New Zealand is no stranger to volcanism, but a newly discovered magma chamber 9.5 kilometers below the surface was an unexpected find for scientists studying ground movement around the country’s most active volcanic zone. The new chamber doesn’t sit directly beneath New Zealand’s familiar volcanoes, but just north and west of them beneath the Bay of Plenty coast. The find suggests recent intrusions of molten rock into a previously unknown magmatic zone.

01 Nov 2016

Drilling for gold inside a submarine volcano

Earth scientists have been given the green light to drill into an active submarine volcano for the first time, with the hope of discovering substantial new reserves of valuable metals, as well as new forms of extreme life.

31 Oct 2016

Down to Earth With: Volcanologist Kayla Iacovino

When Kayla Iacovino enrolled as a freshman at Arizona State University in 2005, she thought she might become an astronaut. But, after a field trip to outcrops in northern Arizona during her first semester, she became hooked on geology.

28 Oct 2016

Cave dripwater records wildfires

Water seeps through soil and bedrock before dripping from the roof of a cave and carries with it elements of the outside world and its climate history. That is why speleothems, cave structures formed via precipitation, can be studied as climate proxies. New research suggests that the chemistry of the cave dripwater can also contain the signature of wildfires that burned outside the cave, on the ground above the cave’s roof, yielding a more complex picture of the past.

27 Oct 2016

When Earth hit the reset button on life: New research on the Permian-Triassic mass extinction

The Permian-Triassic extinction 252 million years ago extinguished most life on Earth. Recent research weighs in on the kill mechanisms, the timing of the extinctions on land and in the water, and how the environmental degradation of the past may shed light on our current mass extinction.

25 Oct 2016

Electric fields lift dust into the air at massive scales

During the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, black blizzards of dust enveloped the Great Plains, destroying crops. When farmers heard a crackling sound over the radio, they often knew a dust storm was coming, as such storms carry an electric field that can disrupt electronic equipment. Scientists have known since the 1800s that these fields exist, but how they might affect the swirling dust around them has not been understood. In airborne dust over the Sahara Desert, scientists have now directly measured these electric fields for the first time and found that, if strong enough, the fields can lift vast amounts of dust into the air.

25 Oct 2016

Today's weather forecast: Good with a strong chance of improvement

Weather forecasts have improved significantly — roughly one day per decade — since the first numerical, physics-based computer models were implemented in the 1950s. What is needed to continue improving our forecasts?
 
18 Oct 2016

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