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mary caperton morton

Sipping carbon-neutral fuel from the atmosphere

In the near future, vehicles may be powered by carbon that comes from the sky, rather than out of the ground. Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology pulls carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and converts the carbon into pellets that can be used to make hydrocarbon fuel that works in traditional engines. A new study details the process, which has been tested over the last three years, and offers some cost-saving solutions that make DAC more economically feasible than ever.

16 Oct 2018

Surfactants slow oceanic carbon dioxide uptake

The oceans are the largest long-term carbon sink on Earth, absorbing about a quarter of all anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions. The rate of exchange of carbon dioxide between the oceans and the atmosphere is thought to be primarily controlled by wind-driven turbulence at the sea surface. More turbulence leads to increasing gas exchange and higher rates of carbon uptake by the ocean. 

12 Oct 2018

Methane emissions offset some blue carbon burial benefits

Wetlands are prolific sinks for atmospheric carbon. They pull carbon dioxide out of the air and sequester the carbon in plants, soils and sediments. But there’s a catch: Wetlands also emit methane, an even more potent, albeit far less abundant, greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Two new studies, one measuring methane emissions from a rehabilitated freshwater peatland in California and the other looking at emissions from tropical mangrove forests in Australia, are revealing that these so-called “blue carbon” sinks may emit much more methane than previously thought.

03 Oct 2018

Dry rivers secretly star in carbon cycle

In arid environments, some seasonal rivers and streams spend more time as dry riverbeds than they do as flowing waterways. A new study is giving scientists a clearer understanding of how these intermittently dry streambeds contribute to the global carbon cycle.

02 Oct 2018

Sunny Southern California burns, missing its coastal clouds

Coastal Southern California is famous for cloudless blue skies all summer long, but it hasn’t always been that way. A new study indicates that cloud cover has decreased dramatically over the beaches between Los Angeles and San Diego since the 1970s. And that could affect fires in the region.

01 Oct 2018

Readying the Caribbean for the next big wave

The Caribbean is famous for clear blue waters and serene white sand beaches, and infamous for destructive hurricanes — but another type of natural disaster can also strike: tsunamis.

03 Sep 2018

Ancient DNA reveals diversity of Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is one of the most genetically and linguistically diverse regions on Earth. New sequencing of ancient human DNA is helping scientists piece together the puzzle of how repeated influxes of hunter-gatherers and farmers to the area over the last 50,000 years created the high level of diversity seen today.

03 Sep 2018

Mercury links Big Five extinction events

Mercury concentration spikes in the geologic record have been linked to massive volcanism in the form of large igneous provinces (LIP) such as the Deccan Traps, a kilometers-thick heap of basalt layers that formed in what is now India beginning late in the Cretaceous, and the Siberian Traps, an even larger mass of lava that erupted in Siberia at the end of the Per­mian. It’s thought that vast gas emissions associated with LIP eruptions could have significantly changed climate patterns and affected conditions such as ocean acidity. 

31 Aug 2018

Sunstones useful as Viking-era GPS

The Vikings ruled the North Atlantic for hundreds of years without the benefits of magnetic compasses on the rough, often stormy waters. Legends have told of Vikings using sun compasses during clear weather and “sunstones” in cloudy conditions to navigate their weeks-long journeys between ports. A new study finds that sunstones made of calcite, cordierite or tourmaline may have indeed been accurate navigational tools.

28 Aug 2018

Gravity changes portended 2011 Tohoku earthquake

A new analysis of satellite data has revealed a distinct change in the gravity signal measured across the Japanese archipelago starting several months before the March 11, 2011, magnitude-9.1 Tohoku-Oki earthquake — one of the largest seismic events in recorded history.

27 Aug 2018

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