Taxonomy term

sara e. pratt

Humans are influencing some extreme weather events, but not all

In 2012, the world experienced dozens of extreme weather events, including droughts, heat waves, cold spells, extreme rainfalls, big storms like Superstorm Sandy, and a record-low Arctic sea-ice extent. Teasing apart the factors that create extreme weather is a challenge for scientists, especially when it comes to determining whether human-induced climate change plays a role. Recently, 18 different research teams — comprising 80 scientists — took on that challenge.

16 Jan 2014

In or Out? Has Voyager left the solar system?

San Francisco - There is a possibility that Voyager, the U.S. spacecraft launched in 1977, which is thought to have left the heliosphere and entered interstellar space last year, could still be "inside," said Ed Stone, Voyager project chief scientist, today at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

09 Dec 2013

Giant quake sloshed fjords half a world away

On the morning of March 11, 2011, Leif Hus and his wife Gry Melas Hus were having breakfast in their kitchen overlooking Sognefjord in Leikanger, Norway. It was low tide on a calm and windless day with near-freezing temperatures. As they stood, coffee cups in hand, looking out the window at the fjord, they saw an unusual wave roll in. The wave continued to rise, surging over the seawall into their backyard before receding back into the fjord. Then another wave surged in, and another. As the water rose, engulfing the ladder on their dock, Leif grabbed his cell phone and started filming.

02 Dec 2013

Bailing through the Boulder flood: One neighborhood's experience

In lieu of doing a "year in review" issue this year, EARTH asked our staff and some frequent contributors to write a short commentary on something that grabbed their attention in 2013. We gave everyone carte blanche. What follows is a collection of extremely varied, often very personal insights into how the planet impacted each individual. First up? The experience of EARTH's associate editor and her family in dealing with the Colorado floods.

18 Nov 2013

Digitizing Earth: Developing a cyberinfrastructure for the geosciences

That geoscientists are notorious hoarders should come as no surprise. After all, geoscientists collect and study nothing less than Earth itself. Over the last four decades, massive amounts of digital data have begun streaming in from a growing number of satellites and sensors unceasingly monitoring the earth, atmosphere and oceans. Geoscientists are awash in data and, at the same time, have access to ever-increasing computing power. Together, these advances have precipitated fundamental changes in the way earth science is done, leading to the proliferation of computer-based data visualization and modeling — especially 3-D and 4-D modeling.

18 Aug 2013

Rescuing data from the dark

Along with the proliferation of techniques and technologies to deal with Big Data — the large volumes of data coming in from global sensors and satellites that can require supercomputers to crunch — geoscientists are also addressing the collection and integration of what could be termed small (or mainstream) data.

14 Aug 2013

Benchmarks: August 3, 1769: The La Brea Tar Pits are described

Long before Los Angeles’ infamous traffic packed the pavement of Wilshire Boulevard, the area teemed with hundreds of species of Ice Age animals that became trapped in an asphalt quagmire of a different sort: the La Brea tar pits.

03 Aug 2013

July 28, 1996: Kennewick man is discovered

On the evening of July 28, 1996, archaeologist James Chatters received an unexpected call at his home in Richland, Wash., from the local coroner. Two spectators at the local hydroplane races had found a skull in Columbia Park on the banks of the Columbia River near Kennewick, Wash. The coroner wanted Chatters, a paleontologist and forensic anthropologist affiliated with Central Washington University who often consulted for Benton County, to look at the skull and determine if it belonged to a recent murder victim. When the coroner arrived with the skull in a 5-gallon bucket, Chatters had scant notion that the discovery would end up challenging the reigning theory of the origins of the first Americans and would embroil scientists in a protracted, precedent-setting legal battle against the federal government.

27 Jul 2013

Iowa impact crater confirmed

An airborne geophysical survey mapping mineral resources in the Midwest has confirmed that a 470-million-year-old impact crater nearly five times the size of Barringer (Meteor) Crater in Arizona lies buried several hundred meters beneath the town of Decorah, Iowa.

07 Jul 2013

Moon could have formed from Earth after all: Reviving and revising the giant impact theory

Scientists are revisiting the age-old question of how Earth’s moon formed. New models indicate that it could have been born from the Earth following a giant collision after all.

The idea of a moon-forming collision is not new. The giant impact theory — the idea that a catastrophic collision about 4.5 billion years ago between Earth and a protoplanet about half Earth’s size created a disk of molten rock, gas and debris that consolidated to form the moon — was first set forth in the mid-1970s.

04 Feb 2013