Earth science research and news. Read science articles on air quality, geology, meteorology, oceanography, paleontology and science and the environment.
Nanoparticle research could enhance oil recovery, tracing of fracking fluid
Researchers are examining how nanoparticles move underground, knowledge that could eventually help improve recovery in oil fields and discover where hydraulic fracking chemicals travel.
Hot-spring bacteria reveal ability to use far-red light for photosynthesis
Bacteria growing in near darkness use a previously unknown process for harvesting energy and producing oxygen from sunlight, scientists have discovered. The discovery lays the foundation for further research aimed at improving plant growth, harvesting energy from the sun, and understanding dense blooms like those now occurring on Lake Erie and other lakes worldwide.
Sunlight, not microbes, key to carbon dioxide in Arctic
The vast reservoir of carbon stored in Arctic permafrost is gradually being converted to carbon dioxide after entering the freshwater system in a process thought to be controlled largely by microbial activity. However, researchers say that sunlight and not bacteria is the key to triggering the production of CO2 from material released by Arctic soils.
Severe drought is causing the western US to rise like a spring uncoiling
The severe drought gripping the western United States in recent years is changing the landscape well beyond localized effects of water restrictions and browning lawns. Scientists have used GPS data to discover that the growing, broad-scale loss of water is causing the entire western US to rise up like an uncoiled spring.
From dandruff to deep sea vents, an ecologically hyper-diverse fungus
A ubiquitous skin fungus linked to dandruff, eczema and other itchy, flaky maladies in humans has now been tracked to even further global reaches -- including Hawaiian coral reefs and the extreme environments of arctic soils and deep sea vents. The study considers the diversity, ecology, and distribution of the fungi of the genus Malassezia in light of new insights gained from screening environmental sequencing datasets from around the world.
Cause of global warming hiatus found deep in the Atlantic Ocean
Observations show that the heat absent from the Earth's surface for more than a decade is plunging deep in the north and south Atlantic Ocean, and is part of a naturally occurring cycle. Subsurface warming in the ocean explains why global average air temperatures have flatlined since 1999, despite greenhouse gases trapping more solar heat at Earth's surface.
Of bees, mites, and viruses: Virus infections after arrival of new parasitic mite in New Zealand honeybee colonies
Honeybee colonies are dying at alarming rates worldwide. A variety of factors have been proposed to explain their decline, but the exact cause -- and how bees can be saved -- remains unclear. A new article examines the viral landscape in honeybee colonies in New Zealand after the recent arrival of the parasitic Varroa destructor mite.
Novel recycling methods: Fluorescent fingerprint of plastics
A new process has been developed that will greatly simplify the process of sorting plastics in recycling plants. The method enables automated identification of polymers, facilitating rapid separation of plastics for re-use.
Fish and coral smell a bad neighborhood: Marine protected areas might not be enough to help overfished reefs recover
Pacific corals and fish can both smell a bad neighborhood, and use that ability to avoid settling in damaged reefs. Damaged coral reefs emit chemical cues that repulse young coral and fish, discouraging them from settling in the degraded habitat, according to new research. The study shows for the first time that coral larvae can smell the difference between healthy and damaged reefs when they decide where to settle.
Alternate mechanism of species formation picks up support, thanks to a South American ant
A newly discovered species of ant supports a controversial theory of species formation. The ant, only found in a single patch of eucalyptus trees on the São Paulo State University campus in Brazil, branched off from its original species while living in the same colony, something thought rare in current models of evolutionary development.