Earth science research and news. Read science articles on air quality, geology, meteorology, oceanography, paleontology and science and the environment.
European fire ant impacts forest ecosystems by helping alien plants spread
An invasive ant species that has become increasingly abundant in eastern North America not only takes over yards and delivers a nasty sting, it's helping the spread of an invasive plant species. The ants are very effective dispersers of invasive plant seeds and new research suggests that together they could wreak havoc on native ecosystems.
The ants that conquered the world
About one tenth of the world's ants are close relatives; they all belong to just one genus out of 323, called Pheidole. New research suggests that Pheidole evolved the same way twice, once to take over the New World, and then again to take over the Old World.
What 'fecal prints' of microbes can tell us about Earth's evolution
The distinctive “fecal prints” of microbes potentially provide a record of how Earth and life have co-evolved over the past 3.5 billion years as the planet’s temperature, oxygen levels, and greenhouse gases have changed. But, despite more than 60 years of study, it has proved difficult, until now, to “read” much of the information contained in this record.
Dirty pool: Soil's large carbon stores could be freed by increased CO2, plant growth
An increase in human-made carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could initiate a chain reaction between plants and microorganisms that would unsettle one of the largest carbon reservoirs on the planet -- soil. Researchers developed the first computer model to show at a global scale the complex interaction between carbon, plants and soil.
Muddy forests, shorter winters present challenges for loggers
The period of frozen ground has declined by an average of two or three weeks since 1948, research shows. During that time, wood harvests have shifted in years with more variability in freezing and thawing to red pine and jack pine -- species that grow in sandy, well-drained soil that can support trucks and heavy equipment when not frozen.
Study pumps up the volume on understanding of marine invertebrate hearing
Noise pollution in the ocean is increasingly recognized as harmful to marine mammals, affecting their ability to communicate, find mates, and hunt for food. But what impact does noise have on invertebrates -- a critical segment of the food web?
Distribution of fish on northeast US shelf influenced by both fishing, climate
Scientists studying the distribution of four commercial and recreational fish stocks in Northeast US waters have found that climate change can have major impacts on the distribution of fish, but the effects of fishing can be just as important and occur on a more immediate time scale. The four species studied -- black sea bass, scup, summer flounder, and southern New England/Mid-Atlantic Bight winter flounder -- have varied in abundance and have experienced heavy fishing pressure at times over the past 40 years.
Shape-shifting may help some species cope with climate change
Researchers have found that a Rocky Mountain mustard plant alters its physical appearance and flowering time in response to different environmental conditions, suggesting some species can quickly shape-shift to cope with climate change without having to migrate or evolve.
Coral reveals long-term link between Pacific winds, global climate
New research indicates that shifts in Pacific trade winds played a key role in twentieth century climate variation and are likely again influencing global temperatures. The study uses a novel method of analyzing coral chemistry to reveal winds from a century ago.
Methane is leaking from permafrost offshore Siberia
Images of craters on Yamal Peninsula, caused by collapsing permafrost, have become world famous. But did you know that this permafrost extends to the ocean floor? And it is thawing.