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lucas joel

Ocean acidification worsens overnight along California coast

Carbon dioxide absorbed by the oceans causes seawater to become more acidic, which, as scientists have long been documenting, can negatively impact marine animals; for example, acidified waters damage the calcite skeletons and shells of organisms like coral, mussels and oysters by causing them to dissolve. In a new study, scientists have found that ocean seawater acidification may also be taking a toll on shelled organisms like coralline algae, bivalves and gastropods residing in tide pools along California’s coastlines.

29 Jul 2016

Lunar ice reveals moon's poles shifted

In 2009, NASA’s LCROSS mission sent a rocket crashing into a crater near the moon’s south pole, sending debris into space and confirming earlier indications of the presence of water ice on the moon. In a new study, researchers have found that the distribution of ice around the lunar poles doesn’t quite match what scientists initially expected. Instead of ice deposits centered only on the present-day poles — the darkest, coldest spots on the modern moon — ice appears to also be concentrated several degrees away from either pole. And, these off-axis deposits are directly across from one another, or antipodal, on opposite sides of the moon. The reason for this, the study’s authors say, is that the moon, shortly after its formation, shifted off its original rotation axis, causing new ice deposits to form around the new poles while older ice deposits remained at the original poles.

26 Jul 2016

Sea-level rise a risk for millions in the United States

One of the most obvious consequences of human-induced global warming is glacial melting and the sea-level rise that will occur as a result. Yet, few studies examining the potential toll of sea-level rise in the United States have factored in continuing population growth, according to the authors of a new study in Nature Climate Change. Using population projections for the year 2100, researchers led by Mathew Hauer of the University of Georgia projected how many people in the U.S. would be displaced by then due to sea-level rise of either 0.9 meters or 1.8 meters.

21 Jul 2016

Iron meteorites likely hidden below Antarctic ice

Despite the fact that meteorites fall relatively evenly across the surface of the planet, most meteorites retrieved by humans have come from Antarctica. This is because meteorites are easily buried and preserved in Antarctic ice; over time, the ice melts and exposes the dark-colored fallen rocks for relatively easy recovery on the continent’s white surface. But iron-rich meteorites, common among specimens found in other parts of the planet, are unusually rare in Antarctica. Researchers may now have figured out why.

14 Jul 2016

Buried lunar craters filled by lava long ago

Craters dot much of the nearside of the moon. And buried beneath this pockmarked landscape, according to the latest findings from NASA’s two Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft, are the remnants of even more craters, many of which were covered long ago by lava.

12 Jul 2016

Weak magnetic field may have triggered Earth's first mass extinction

For about the first 3 billion years of life, the only living organisms on Earth were microscopic. The Ediacaran Period, between 635 million and 541 million years ago, saw the rise of the first large-scale life, most of which then went extinct at the period’s close — a collapse that scientists have yet to explain. Now, researchers may have found one of the extinction’s drivers: rapid flip-flopping of Earth’s magnetic field — wherein the field’s north and south poles reverse — that could have left the planet and Ediacaran organisms vulnerable to bombardment by harmful cosmic radiation.

08 Jul 2016

Travels in Geology: Sculptures of wind and ice: Sleeping Bear Dunes and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshores

Two of the U.S.’s four national lakeshores are in Michigan. Visit them both for a look at how an ice sheet drastically reshaped the landscape, eroding and carving dunes, cliffs and the Great Lakes.

07 Jul 2016

Getting there and getting around Michigan

The nearest city to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, the more remote of the two lakeshores, is Marquette, Mich., where travelers can fly into Sawyer International Airport, typically via connections through Chicago or Detroit. The closest town with lodging is Munising, right next to the lakeshore.

07 Jul 2016

Cretaceous amber suggests societal behavior in insects is at least 100 million years old

Many insects are social animals. Some, including ants, form colonies with complex social hierarchies, wherein specific roles like reproduction and colony construction are assigned to specific groups of ants, like queens or workers, for example. This kind of sociality, known as eusociality, is found in many other insects, like beetles, honeybees and termites. When it evolved, however, has remained unclear. Until now, the earliest evidence of eusociality came from 20-million-year-old fossils, even though the insect lineages were known to be much older. But two new fossil discoveries have pushed the first known appearance of eusociality back by 80 million years.

04 Jul 2016

Fossil dinosaur illuminates evolution of tyrannosauroid body sizes

Tyrannosauroid dinosaurs were the dominant predators of the terrestrial ecosystems in which they roamed for much of the Late Cretaceous, from about 80 million to 66 million years ago. Some, like Tyrannosaurus rex, reached lengths up to about 13 meters and heights of nearly 4 meters. Their large size and keen senses — relatively large nasal passageways suggest a heightened sense of smell — are considered to have been keys to their success.

 
22 Jun 2016

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