Earth science research and news. Read science articles on air quality, geology, meteorology, oceanography, paleontology and science and the environment.
Great Barrier Reef protecting against landslides, tsunamis
The world-famous Australian reef is providing an effective barrier against landslide-induced tsunamis, new research shows. An underwater landslide has been found to have occurred some 20,000 years ago, causing a tsunami. Similar submarine landslides could occur without our knowledge but the Great Barrier Reef can absorb some of that potential wave energy.
Global growth in carbon dioxide emissions stagnates
After a decade of rapid growth in global carbon dioxide emissions, which increased at an average annual rate of 4%, much smaller increases were registered in 2012 (0.8%), 2013 (1.5%) and 2014 (0.5%). In 2014, when the emissions growth was almost at a standstill, the world's economy continued to grow by 3%. The trend over the last three years thus sends an encouraging signal on the decoupling of carbon dioxide emissions from global economic growth. However, it is still too early to confirm a positive global trend. For instance India, with its emerging economy and large population, increased its emissions by 7.8% and became the fourth largest emitter globally.
Carbon content of temperate forests overestimated, study suggests
Digital measurements of millions of trees indicate that previous studies likely overestimate the amount of carbon stored by temperate US forests, according to a new study.
Volcanic rocks hold clues to Earth's interior
Earth's deep interior transport system explains volcanic island lava complexities, report scientists. Studies of rocks found on certain volcanic islands, known as ocean island basalts, have revealed that although these erupted rocks originate from Earth's interior, they are not the same chemically.
A new green power source
To limit climate change, experts say that we need to reach carbon neutrality by the end of this century at the latest. To achieve that goal, our dependence on fossil fuels must be reversed. But what energy source will take its place? Researchers report that they just might have the answer: blue-green algae.
Decarbonizing tourism: Would you pay US$11 for a carbon-free holiday?
The damaging effects of carbon dioxide emissions from tourism could eventually be eliminated if travelers paid just US$11 per trip, according to a new study. Global tourism is largely dependent on fossil fuel energy, and emits more carbon dioxide than than all but five countries of the world. Recent estimates conclude that tourism, including transport, accommodation, and leisure activities contributed close to 5 percent of total human-made emissions of carbon dioxide worldwide.
Big data reveals glorious animation of bottom water
A remarkably detailed animation of the movement of the densest and coldest water in the world around Antarctica has been produced using data generated on Australia's most powerful supercomputer, Raijin.
How Earth's Pacific plates collapsed
Scientists drilling into the ocean floor have, for the first time, found out what happens when one tectonic plate first gets pushed under another. The international expedition drilled into the Pacific ocean floor and found distinctive rocks formed when the Pacific tectonic plate changed direction and began to plunge under the Philippine Sea Plate about 50 million years ago.
Storing solar energy underground for a cloudy day
A common criticism of a total transition to wind, water and solar power is that the US electrical grid can't affordably store enough standby electricity to keep the system stable. Now a researcher proposes an underground solution to that problem.
'Traditional authority' linked to rates of deforestation in Africa
New analysis reveals a strong correlation between precolonial institutions in Africa and current levels of deforestation. Researchers suggest that many of these structures still operate at a local level, controlling and exploiting natural resources under the radar of the state, and that such legacies of governance pose a major challenge for implementing conservation policies.