Earth in the News

The latest reports of natural disasters and scientific discoveries about the Earth.

  • A sub-desert savanna spread across Madrid 14 million years ago

    The current landscape of Madrid city and its vicinity was really different 14 million years ago. A semi-desert savanna has been inferred for the center of the Iberian Peninsula in the middle Miocene. This ecosystem was characterized by a very arid tropical climatic regime with up to ten months of drought per year, according to a recent paper. Scientists reached such conclusions after comparing mammal fauna with Africa and Asia ones.

  • Plant respiration could become a bigger feedback on climate than expected

    New research suggests that plant respiration is a larger source of carbon emissions than previously thought, and warns that as the world warms, this may reduce the ability of Earth's land surface to absorb emissions due to fossil fuel burning.

  • A popular tool to trace Earth's oxygen history can give false positives

    If someone cries 'Eureka!' because it looks like oxygen appeared in Earth's ancient atmosphere long before the body of evidence indicated, be careful. If it was a chromium isotope system reading that caused the enthusiasm, it might need to be curbed.

  • Groundwater depletion could be significant source of atmospheric carbon dioxide

    Humans may be adding large amounts of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by using groundwater faster than it is replenished, according to new research. This process, known as groundwater depletion, releases a significant amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that has until now been overlooked by scientists in calculating carbon sources, according to the new study.

  • Could we predict La Niña drought years in advance?

    Scientists' ability to predict the strength and duration of droughts caused by La Niña -- a recurrent cooling pattern in the tropical Pacific Ocean -- has been significantly improved thanks to new research. Their findings, which predict that the current La Niña is likely to stretch into a second year, could help scientists know years in advance how a particular La Niña event is expected to evolve.

  • Salt pond in Antarctica, among the saltiest waters on Earth, is fed from beneath

    One of the saltiest bodies on Earth, an analog for what water might look like on Mars, is just one piece of a larger aquifer.

  • Pacific Island countries could lose 50 -- 80% of fish in local waters under climate change

    Many Pacific Island nations will lose 50 to 80 percent of marine species in their waters by the end of the 21st century if climate change continues unchecked, finds a new study. This area of the ocean is projected to be the most severely impacted by aspects of climate change.

  • Off track: How storms will veer in a warmer world

    The dry, semi-arid regions are expanding into higher latitudes, and temperate, rainy regions are migrating poleward. In a new paper, researchers provide new insight into this phenomenon by discovering that mid-latitude storms are steered further toward the poles in a warmer climate.

  • Amazon's recovery from forest losses limited by climate change

    Deforested areas of the Amazon Basin have a limited ability to grow new trees because of changes in climate, according to a study.

  • Colorado River's connection with the ocean was a punctuated affair

    The Colorado River's initial trip to the ocean didn't come easy, but its story has emerged from layers of sediment preserved within tectonically active stretches of the waterway's lower reaches. Researchers theorize that the river's route off the Colorado Plateau was influenced by tectonic deformation and changing sea levels that produced a series of stops and starts between roughly 6.3 and 4.8 million years ago.

  • Artificially cooling planet 'risky strategy'

    Proposals to reduce the effects of global warming by imitating volcanic eruptions could have a devastating effect on global regions prone to either tumultuous storms or prolonged drought, new research has shown.

  • Study settles prehistoric puzzle, confirms modern link of carbon dioxide and global warming

    Fossil leaves from Africa resolve a prehistoric climate puzzle and confirm the link between carbon dioxide and global warming. Research previously found conflicting data on high carbon levels and its link to climate change about 22 million years ago. But a new study found the link existed then as now. The finding sheds light on recent and future increases in atmospheric carbon and its impact on our planet.

  • Expanded networks, faculty mentorship bolster female undergrads' pursuit of geoscience

    To retain more undergraduate women in geoscience majors, a supportive network that includes faculty mentorship seems to be a key driver, according to a new study.

  • When water met iron deep inside the Earth, did it create conditions for life?

    Reservoirs of oxygen-rich iron between the Earth's core and mantle could have played a major role in Earth's history, including the breakup of supercontinents, drastic changes in Earth's atmospheric makeup, and the creation of life, according to recent research.

  • Geologists uncover Antarctica’s fossil forests

    Prehistoric polar forests were built for survival, but were not hardy enough to live in ultra-high concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide. A geologist is studying the tree fossil record in Antarctica from a mass extinction 250 million years ago, looking for clues to how greenhouse gases affected plants -- then and now.

  • When continents break it gets warm on Earth

    The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere determines whether the Earth is in greenhouse or ice age state. Before humans began to have an impact on the amount of CO2 in the air, it depended solely on the interplay of geological and biological processes, the global carbon cycle. This study shows that the break-up of continents - also known as rifting -- contributed significantly to higher CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere.

  • 15,000 scientists in 184 countries warn about negative global environmental trends

    Human well-being will be severely jeopardized by negative trends in some types of environmental harm, such as a changing climate, deforestation, loss of access to fresh water, species extinctions and human population growth, scientists warn.

  • Largest, longest multiphysics earthquake simulation created to date

    A multi-disciplinary team has simulated the largest, longest multiphysics earthquake simulation to date.

  • Bad news: Global emissions rising again

    Global carbon emissions are on the rise again in 2017 after three years of little to no growth. Global emissions from all human activities will reach 41 billion tons in 2017, following a projected 2 percent rise in burning fossil fuels. It was hoped that emissions might soon reach their peak after three stable years, so this is unwelcome news.

  • How a 'shadow zone' traps the world's oldest ocean water

    New research has revealed why the oldest water in the ocean in the North Pacific has remained trapped in a shadow zone around 2km below the sea surface for over 1000 years.