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Blogging on EARTH: New lessons from antiquity, this time on construction

Each year, millions of visitors flock to Italy to wander among the remains of ancient Rome, where Cicero strolled and Augustus celebrated his expanding empire. Vestiges of the historic city center lie sprawled around the forum grounds like the abandoned playthings of a distracted giant: vertebrae of toppled columns, a crossword puzzle of ancient foundations, towering doorframes granting access to long-gone buildings. Above everything soars the lopsided profile of the Roman Colosseum, a structure as tough and stubborn as the gladiators that once battled in its ring.
 

20 Jun 2013

Modern humans arrived in South Asia 25,000 years later than previously thought?

Figuring out when modern humans left Africa and migrated throughout the world is a complicated task. For example, some evidence suggests modern humans may have migrated out of Africa and into Asia as early as 120,000 years ago. Further evidence puts modern humans in India and other parts of South Asia prior to the super-eruption of Mount Toba in Sumatra, which took place 74,000 years ago.

13 Jun 2013

Scripps launches Twitter carbon dioxide-meter

Back in January 2013, it became clear to Ralph Keeling, a scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography who studies carbon dioxide, that sometime in the not-too-distant future, the concentration of this potent greenhouse gas in Earth’s atmosphere would creep above 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in human history.

17 May 2013

Bare Earth Elements: Cool time-lapse shows movement of ice and animals in Antarctica's Ross Sea

Has anyone else been obsessed with Antarctica lately? As an erstwhile scientist with a lasting interest in the life that inhabits what we think of as extreme environments (not to mention the physical environments themselves), I’ve been gleefully soaking up details from the myriad news reports, blog entries and scientific studies coming out of the icy continent of late. The latest bit of fodder for my Antarctophilia is a 5-minute time-lapse video (below) taken from the icebreaker Nathaniel B. Palmer during a recent two-month stint in the Ross Sea.

14 May 2013

Blogging on EARTH: Spring has sprung, at least in some places

Spring was nowhere to be found during my recent three weeks of travel through Europe; not in the olive orchards of southern Italy, the cobbled streets of Copenhagen, or the banks of the Danube as it winds through central Vienna. Instead, winter has dragged on stubbornly — the worst in 43 years — leaving behind relict patches of snow in shadowy alleys and warning new leaves not to adorn the bare branches of trees with vernal green.

19 Apr 2013

National Weather Service introduces impact-based warnings for tornadoes

Tornado damage threat: considerable or catastrophic?

On May 22, 2011, a column of rotating air spawned a massive EF-5 tornado, with wind speeds greater than 200 miles per hour, over the city of Joplin, Mo. The twister caught the city off guard, leaving 158 people dead and injuring more than 1,000 people, making it the deadliest tornado in the United States since record-keeping began in 1950. As the National Weather Service (NWS) surveyed the city following the tornado, they began considering ideas on how to better alert the public to the risks of dangerous weather events. After a successful test phase of one such idea, the agency is now expanding on its so-called “Impact Based Warnings” experiment.

15 Apr 2013

Bare Earth Elements: Mars-Observing Fleet Set to Face Silent Treatment

Outbound communications from NASA to its group of Mars-observing orbiters and rovers will be curtailed starting April 4. And as of April 9, no commands will be sent in the Red Planet’s direction. Lest anyone worry that this radio silence has to do with sequester-related budgetary constraints affecting the space agency, don’t fret, it’s only temporary and it has more to do with orbital, rather than fiscal, dynamics. The planned break in communication is a result of an impending planetary configuration, known as a solar conjunction, that will put the sun directly between Earth and Mars.

03 Apr 2013

Bare Earth Elements: Voices from GSA 2012

Glimpsing the lighter side of a conference

Last November, EARTH's Tim Oleson attended the Geological Society of America’s annual meeting in Charlotte, N.C. To get a different perspective on the conference, he talked to some of the assorted geoscientists there about their experience: why they had come, if they were enjoying themselves and, because it was a gathering of geoscientists, how the beer was. It was a chance to catch attendees while they simply enjoyed the occasion and the company of kindred spirits while away from the rapid-fire schedules of the technical sessions and academic lifestyles.

14 Feb 2013

Bare Earth Elements: A geo-themed pop quiz in honor of 12/12/12

Think you have your geo-vocabulary down, or want to test your geo-jargon chops? Be our guest!

Rearrange twelve 12-letter words using 12-word definitions as clues. Some are a little easier, some are a little harder. All are geo-fantabulous!

Email us your name and answers by 11:59 p.m. EST on Dec. 14, 2012, for a chance to win an EARTH Magazine T-shirt.

12 Dec 2012

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