Earth science research and news. Read science articles on air quality, geology, meteorology, oceanography, paleontology and science and the environment.
Himalayan Viagra fuels caterpillar fungus gold rush
Overwhelmed by speculators trying to cash-in on a prized medicinal fungus known as Himalayan Viagra, two isolated Tibetan communities have managed to do at the local level what world leaders often fail to do on a global scale -- implement a successful system for the sustainable harvest of a precious natural resource, suggests new research.
They know the drill: Leading the league in boring through ice sheets
Hollow coring drills are used to extract ice cores that can analyze the past atmosphere. Scientists have now documented carbon dioxide in the atmosphere between 23,000 and 9,000 years ago, based on data from an 11,000-foot hole in Antarctica.
Oceans arrived early to Earth; Primitive meteorites were a likely source of water, study finds
Earth is known as the Blue Planet because of its oceans, which cover more than 70 percent of the planet's surface and are home to the world's greatest diversity of life. While water is essential for life on the planet, the answers to two key questions have eluded us: Where did Earth's water come from and when? While some hypothesize that water came late to Earth, well after the planet had formed, findings from a new study significantly move back the clock for the first evidence of water on Earth and in the inner solar system.
Emerging disease could wipe out American, European salamanders
A fungal disease from Asia wiped out salamanders in parts of Europe and will likely reach the US through the international wildlife trade in Asian newts sold as pets, say US experts. Scientists report the fungus arose in Asia 30 million years ago and is lethal to many European and American newt species. It has not yet been found in North American wild amphibians.
Magma pancakes beneath Indonesia's Lake Toba: Subsurface sources of mega-eruptions
The tremendous amounts of lava that are emitted during super-eruptions accumulate over millions of years prior to the event in the Earth's crust. These reservoirs consist of magma that intrudes into the crust in the form of numerous horizontally oriented sheets resting on top of each other like a pile of pancakes.
Saving lonely species is important for environment
Endemic eucalyptus in Tasmania has been the focus of recent study. Researchers discovered that these rare species have developed unique characteristics to survive, and that these characteristics may also impact the survival of its neighbors in the ecosystem.
Female frogs modify offspring development depending on reproduction date
Global warming is altering the reproduction of plants and animals, notably accelerating the date when reproduction and other life processes occur. A new study has discovered that some amphibians are capable of making their offspring grow at a faster rate if they have been born later due to the climate.
Active, biodegradable packaging for oily products
The increase in the presence of plastic in our lives is an unstoppable trend due to the versatility of this material. So innovation in the packaging industry has been focusing on the development of new, more sustainable, economically viable materials with enhanced properties and which also perform the functions required by this sector: to contain, protect and preserve the product, to inform the consumer about it and to facilitate the distribution of it. Now, a single-layer, biodegradable container from agro-industrial by-products suitable for both liquid and solid oily products has been developed by researchers.
Reef-builders with a sense of harmony
Cold-water corals of the species Lophelia pertusa are able to fuse skeletons of genetically distinct individuals. Scientists have made the first-ever discovery of branches of different colors that had flawlessly merged. The ability to fuse supports the reef stability and thus contributes to the success of corals as reef-builders of the deep sea.
High air pollution levels near unconventional oil and gas production sites
Research suggests air pollutants released by unconventional oil and gas production are well over recommended levels in the US. High levels of benzene, hydrogen sulfide and formaldehyde were found. The study is the first to be based on community sampling by people who live near production sites and could be used to supplement official air-quality monitoring programs.