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Sea-level rise could cut off wastewater service to millions in U.S.

Scientists report in a recent study that with just 30 centimeters of sea-level rise, roughly 4 million people in the U.S. could lose access to municipal wastewater services — services that allow three-quarters of America to run the tap and flush the toilet. And with even higher seas, the number goes up.

21 Jun 2018

India's urban areas punch city-shaped holes in fog

Air pollution boosts fog formation in some places, creating whiteouts that can affect air and ground transportation, air quality, and public health. In northern and eastern India, persistent fog often hovers over the Indo-Gangetic Plain, a vast region dotted with several densely populated cities, including Delhi, home to 19 million people. Over some of these cities, however, satellite imagery is revealing large holes in the fog.

21 Jun 2018

Red Planet Roundup: June 2018

With two rovers patrolling the surface of Mars, six spacecraft orbiting above it, and scientists here on Earth studying the Red Planet from afar, new findings are announced often.

12 Jun 2018

Skate eggs found on hydrothermal vents

In July 2016, a team of scientists came upon a surprise 1,660 meters beneath the ocean’s surface near the Galápagos Islands: a clutch of yellow eggs, laid by a Pacific white skate, a cousin of rays and sharks. It was not the eggs themselves that surprised the team, but where they were found: near a volcanic hydrothermal vent. The large number of eggs at the site led the team to suggest that the skate was likely using the vent’s heat to incubate the eggs.

11 Jun 2018

TRAPPIST-1 system hosts seven "Earth-like" planets

In 2017, astronomers discovered seven planets orbiting a star dubbed TRAP­PIST-1, a faint red dwarf 40 light-years from Earth and only 9 percent as bright as our sun. The Earth-like qualities of these planets made headlines: they are of similar sizes to our planet, and their orbits fall within TRAPPIST-1’s habitable zone — two characteristics that scientists think are important for life to exist on a planet. Researchers now report that the TRAPPIST-1 planets have even more traits in common with Earth: they are likely rocky, and they may have surface water that exists as liquid, ice and vapor.

08 Jun 2018

Are diatoms triggering submarine landslides?

Far beneath the ocean’s surface, puzzling deposits from huge submarine landslides can be found amid expanses of nearly flat ocean floor. Without steep terrain, what causes these megaslides? In a new study, scientists who delved into deep-sea drilling records report a potential trigger for one such slide off the coast of northwest Africa: diatom ooze.

07 Jun 2018

Solar eclipse mimics conditions on Mars

What does a total solar eclipse here on Earth have to do with studying life on Mars? The answer lies nearly 25 kilometers above Earth’s surface in the stratosphere, where the August 2017 eclipse offered researchers a rare opportunity to mimic conditions on the Red Planet.

05 Jun 2018

Taking the surprise out of sneaker waves

Since 2005, more than two dozen confirmed fatalities in California and Oregon have been caused by so-called sneaker waves, which surge far ashore with little warning, sometimes catching beachgoers by surprise. Most beaches in the Pacific Northwest and California have posted signs warning visitors of the hazard, but few scientific studies have been done on sneaker waves and, currently, there is no consensus on their definition or origin. 

01 Jun 2018

Airport earthquakes continued after injection ended

Since Oct. 31, 2008, when seismic activity was first detected, hundreds of earthquakes smaller than magnitude 3.4 have peppered a fault zone that partly underlies the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) in north-central Texas. After the quakes were linked to the subsurface disposal of wastewater fluids from oil and gas operations in wells located within a kilometer of the initial quakes, wastewater injections into those wells were halted in August 2009. 

31 May 2018

Which warm waters boosted Hurricane Harvey?

Last August, Hurricane Harvey walloped Texas, dropping more than 100 centimeters of rain on Houston and nearby areas, and causing more than $125 billion in damage. But almost nobody saw it coming. In the days before Harvey made landfall 60 kilometers east of Corpus Christi, the tropical storm barely registered as a threat, but within 30 hours it escalated from a tropical storm into a Category 4 hurricane. Using data collected before and during the storm, scientists are piecing together how Harvey became so ferocious so fast, an effort that could help scientists better predict which future storms might have similarly rapid intensifications.

30 May 2018

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