Earth science research and news. Read science articles on air quality, geology, meteorology, oceanography, paleontology and science and the environment.
Cheaper silicon means cheaper solar cells
Researchers have pioneered a new approach to manufacturing solar cells that requires less silicon and can accommodate silicon with more impurities than is currently the standard. Those changes mean that solar cells can be made much more cheaply than at present.
Predicting the predator threatening a squirrel by analyzing its sounds and tail movements
Biologists found the could quite accurately predict what type of predator was threatening a squirrel by analyzing its sounds and tail movements.
Two vessels from WWII convoy battle off North Carolina discovered: German U-boat 576 and freighter Bluefields found within 240 yards
Scientists have discovered two significant vessels from World War II's Battle of the Atlantic. The German U-boat 576 and the freighter Bluefields were found approximately 30 miles off the coast of North Carolina. Lost for more than 70 years, the discovery of the two vessels, in an area known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic, is a rare window into a historic military battle and the underwater battlefield landscape of WWII.
Rising above the risk: America's first tsunami refuge
Washington's coast is so close to the seismically active Cascadia Subduction Zone that if a megathrust earthquake were to occur, a tsunami would hit the Washington shoreline in just 25 minutes. One coastal community is preparing for such a disaster by starting construction on the nation's first tsunami evacuation refuge, large enough to shelter more than 1,000 people who are within 20-minute walking distance.
Getting the salt out: Electrodialysis can provide cost-effective treatment of salty water from fracked wells
The boom in oil and gas produced through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is seen as a boon for meeting U.S. energy needs. But one byproduct of the process is millions of gallons of water that's much saltier than seawater, after leaching salts from rocks deep below the surface. Now researchers say they have found an economical solution for removing the salt from this water.
Beyond LOL cats, social networks could become trove of biodiversity data
Social networks can be a viable source for photo-vouchered biodiversity records, especially those that clarify which species exist in what places within developing nations, one expert suggests.
Backpack physics: Smaller hikers carry heavier loads
Hikers are generally advised that the weight of the packs they carry should correspond to their own size, with smaller individuals carrying lighter loads. Although petite backpackers might appreciate the excuse to hand off heavier gear to the larger members of the group, it turns out that they may not need the help.
BOFFFFs (big, old, fat, fertile, female fish) sustain fisheries
A new compilation of research from around the world now shows that big, old, fat, fertile, female fish -- known as BOFFFFs to scientists -- are essential for ensuring that fishery stocks remain sustainable.
A global surge of great earthquakes from 2004-2014 and implications for Cascadia
The last ten years have been a remarkable time for great earthquakes. Since December 2004 there have been no less than 18 quakes of Mw8.0 or greater -- a rate of more than twice that seen from 1900 to mid-2004. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost and massive damage has resulted from these great earthquakes.
Ocean's living carbon pumps: When viruses attack giant algal blooms, global carbon cycles are affected
By some estimates, almost half of the world's organic carbon is fixed by marine organisms called phytoplankton -- single-celled photosynthetic organisms that account for less than one percent of the total photosynthetic biomass on Earth. When giant algal blooms get viral infections, global carbon cycles are affected, scientists have now discovered.