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Snow triggers quakes on Mount Rainier

A new study indicates that more than 150,000 low-frequency earthquakes that occurred on Mount Rainier over the past decade were caused by snowfall that triggered stick-slip sliding of glaciers.

25 Dec 2014

Nanoflares power the sun's superheated corona

The sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona, reaches temperatures of more than 1 million degrees Celsius, hundreds of times hotter than its visible surface. The reason for this has puzzled scientists, who so far have only been able to theorize explanations.

24 Dec 2014

New satellite maps carbon dioxide sources and sinks in high definition

A recently launched satellite is now measuring atmospheric carbon dioxide with greater precision than ever before. Launched on July 2, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) is already mapping levels of carbon dioxide, the presence of which in the air constantly varies by region and over time. It has also validated a new technique of analysis that was not even contemplated when the mission was planned, according to scientists who discussed the mission at a press conference during the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in San Francisco.

23 Dec 2014

Ancient storms recorded in Yucatán cave

Today, one can find a plethora of records about coastal storms — everything from local news footage of wading meteorologists to the moment-to-moment wind speeds and barometric pressures of entire seasons of Atlantic hurricanes recorded in NOAA databases. Ancient storms are harder to track, unless they left a mark in the geologic record. Now, researchers have a new proxy record, one of the longest to date, to study ancient storms.

23 Dec 2014

Bare Earth Elements: Past and present directors dissect the future of USGS

The U.S. Geological Survey, including its employees and leadership, have a penchant for self-assessment and an ambition for pragmatic self-improvement. That was on display Thursday, Dec. 18, in San Francisco in an hour-long panel discussion held in conjunction with the annual fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union, and featuring USGS acting director Suzette Kimball along with four of the five most recent past directors and acting directors. The panelists candidly addressed a number of issues, including how USGS has been and should continue adapting to best address its roles in science and public service, as well as internal and external barriers affecting its success in these roles.

22 Dec 2014

Carbon tet still offensive to ozone layer

Earth’s ultraviolet light-shielding ozone layer is recovering, according to a report released in September by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme. The findings, authored by more than 250 scientists and presented as part of the latest Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion (SAOD), suggest the ongoing success of the 1987 Montreal Protocol and its amendments in cutting atmospheric levels of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other ozone-depleting substances (ODS’s), which have fallen by about 10 to 15 percent overall since peaking in the late 1990s.

22 Dec 2014

Oceans: Where has all the plastic gone?

Plastic in the ocean is a growing concern, yet no one knows for sure how much debris is out there, where it is and how it affects marine ecosystems and food chains. Andrés Cózar of the University of Cádiz in Puerto Real, Spain, and colleagues recently undertook a meta-study to estimate the abundance and distribution of plastic in the global ocean.

21 Dec 2014

Mineral in Chelyabinsk meteorite reveals past collision

A new analysis of fragments of the Chelyabinsk meteorite — which burst over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February 2013 — reveals that its parent asteroid collided with another asteroid nearly 300 million years before it struck Earth.

20 Dec 2014

Satellites - not just Santa - see holiday lights

 This year, when Santa makes his rounds, he won’t need Rudolph to light his way. In many U.S. cities, the intensity of nighttime lighting increases 20 to 50 percent during the holidays compared to the rest of the year, according to data presented Tuesday by NASA researchers at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in San Francisco. The findings are based on two years’ worth of data, collected in 2012 and 2013 from 70 American cities.

18 Dec 2014

Last Scottish glacier melted during big chill?

Scotland’s craggy peaks, deep lochs and fjord-lined coast are hallmarks of a landscape shaped by successive glaciations, the last of which, toward the end of the Pleistocene, draped the highlands with an ice cap covering 9,500 square kilometers. Rocky moraines give scientists a clear picture of the boundaries of this glaciation, called the Loch Lomond Advance, although the timeline of its growth and eventual demise has proved difficult to pin down.

18 Dec 2014

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