Earth science research and news. Read science articles on air quality, geology, meteorology, oceanography, paleontology and science and the environment.
Largest freshwater lake on Earth was reduced to desert dunes in just a few hundred years
Researchers used satellite images to map abandoned shore lines around Palaeolake Mega-Chad, and analyzed sediments to calculate the age of these shore lines, producing a lake level history spanning the last 15,000 years.
Helium leakage from Earth's mantle in Los Angeles Basin
Geologists have found evidence of helium leakage from Earth's mantle along a 30-mile stretch of the Newport-Inglewood Fault Zone in the Los Angeles Basin. Using samples of casing gas from two dozen oil wells ranging from LA's Westside to Newport Beach in Orange County, researchers discovered that more than one-third of the sites -- some of the deepest ones -- show evidence of high levels of helium-3 (3He).
Atmospheric mysteries unraveling
It's been difficult to explain patterns of toxic mercury in some parts of the world, such as why there's so much of the toxin deposited into ecosystems from the air in the southeastern United States, even upwind of usual sources. Now, a new analysis shows that one key to understanding mercury's strange behavior may be the unexpected reactivity of naturally occurring halogen compounds from the ocean.
Recent mercury pollution on the rise, but quick to change, study shows
A study using a 600-year-old ice core shows that global mercury pollution increased dramatically during the 20th century, but that mercury concentrations in the atmosphere decreased faster than previously thought beginning in the late 1970s when emissions started to decline.
Soil water, microbes influence carbon in world's coldest desert, study finds
Soil water and microbes' respiration contribute to fluctuations of carbon dioxide in the world's coldest desert, where climate change is expected to increase underground moisture and microorganisms, a study finds.
Microplastics entering ocean food web through zooplankton, researchers find
Tiny microscopic animals called zooplankton are ingesting plastic particles at an alarming rate, according to a new study. That could not only pose a risk to salmon but also spell trouble for the entire aquatic food web -- from zooplankton to humpback whales.
Up, up and away, in the name of science education
The virtues of high-altitude balloons for science education in a new research paper have been outlined in a new research paper. High altitude balloons are ripe for exploitation in science education and beyond, the author says, noting that there is a need for a formal design framework for high-altitude ballooning. There is also a need for a framework to make this technology more effective in undergraduate university courses, for instance, through a standard approach to improving payload design.
New nanogenerator harvests power from rolling tires
Engineers have developed a nanogenerator that harvests energy from a car's rolling tire friction.
Food for thought: Use more forages in livestock farming
Small-scale livestock farming in the tropics can become more intensive yet sustainable if more and better forage is used to feed the animals being reared. This could benefit farming endeavors in rural South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, Central America and the Caribbean, and see a move away from the increased reliance on grain-based feeds, say scientists.
Indonesian mud volcano likely human-caused, study suggests
New research hopes to close the debate on whether a major mud volcano disaster in Indonesia was triggered by an earthquake or had human-made origins.