Earth science research and news. Read science articles on air quality, geology, meteorology, oceanography, paleontology and science and the environment.
Decrease of genetic diversity in the endangered Saimaa ringed seal continues
The critically endangered Saimaa ringed seal, which inhabits Lake Saimaa in Finland, has extremely low genetic diversity and this development seems to continue, according to a recent study. Researchers analyzed the temporal and regional variation in the genetic diversity of the endangered Saimaa ringed seal. The population is only around 300 individuals divided into smaller sub-populations and with very little migration among between them.
Global boom in hydropower expected this decade
An unprecedented boom in hydropower dam construction is underway, primarily in developing countries and emerging economies. While this is expected to double the global electricity production from hydropower, it could reduce the number of our last remaining large free-flowing rivers by about 20 percent and pose a serious threat to freshwater biodiversity.
Intense heat causes health problems among sugar cane workers
Hard work under hot sun causes health problems for sugar cane workers in Costa Rica, such as headache, nausea, and renal dysfunction. The presence of symptoms is also expected to increase in line with ongoing climate changes, according to research.
Nation's 'personality' influences its environmental stewardship, shows new study
Countries with higher levels of compassion and openness score better when it comes to environmental sustainability, says research. "We used to think that personality only mattered for individual outcomes," says the author, "but we're finding that population differences in personality characteristics have many large-scale consequences."
Bodies at sea: Ocean oxygen levels may impact scavenger response
An ocean's oxygen levels may play a role in the impact of marine predators on bodies when they are immersed in the sea, according to researchers, who deployed a trio of pig carcasses into Saanich Inlet off Vancouver Island and studied them using an underwater camera via the internet.
Desert streams: Deceptively simple
Volatile rainstorms drive complex landscape changes in deserts, particularly in dryland channels, which are shaped by flash flooding. Paradoxically, such desert streams have surprisingly simple topography with smooth, straight and symmetrical form that until now has defied explanation.
How ferns adapted to one of Earth's newest and most extreme environments
Ferns are believed to be 'old' plant species -- some of them lived alongside the dinosaurs, over 200 million years ago. However, a group of Andean ferns evolved much more recently: their completely new form and structure (morphology) arose and diversified within the last 2 million years. This novel morphology seems to have been advantageous when colonising the extreme environment of the high Andes.
Florida lizards evolve rapidly, within 15 years and 20 generations
Scientists working on islands in Florida have documented the rapid evolution of a native lizard species -- in as little as 15 years -- as a result of pressure from an invading lizard species, introduced from Cuba.
Highest altitude archaeological sites in the world explored in the Peruvian Andes: Survival in extreme environments
Research conducted at the highest-altitude Pleistocene archaeological sites yet identified in the world sheds new light on the capacity of humans to survive in extreme environments. The findings were taken from sites in the Pucuncho Basin, located in the Southern Peruvian Andes.
Coping with water scarcity: Effectiveness of water policies aimed at reducing consumption evaluated
Southern California water agencies have turned to new pricing structures, expanded rebate programs and implemented other means to encourage their customers to reduce consumption. Some of those policies have greatly reduced per capita consumption, while others have produced mixed results.