Earth science research and news. Read science articles on air quality, geology, meteorology, oceanography, paleontology and science and the environment.
New biodiversity metric defined by researchers
To understand how the repeated climatic shifts over the last 120,000 years may have influenced today's patterns of genetic diversity, a team of researchers developed a new biodiversity metric called 'phylogeographic endemism.'
Snails tell of the rise and fall of the Tibetan Plateau
The rise of the Tibetan plateau -- the largest topographic anomaly above sea level on Earth -- is important for both its profound effect on climate and its reflection of continental dynamics. Scientists have now employed a cutting-edge geochemical tool -- "clumped" isotope thermometry -- using modern and fossil snail shells to investigate the uplift history of the Zhada basin in southwestern Tibet.
Flapping baby birds give clues to origin of flight
The origin of flight is a contentious issue: some argue that tree-climbing dinosaurs learned to fly in order to avoid hard falls. Others favor the story that theropod dinosaurs ran along the ground and pumped their forelimbs to gain lift, eventually talking off. New evidence showing the early development of aerial righting in birds favors the tree-dweller hypothesis.
Second-hand e-cig smoke compared to regular cigarette smoke
Second-hand e-cig smoke has 10 times less particulate matter than regular cigarette smoke; but higher levels of certain toxic metals, a new study finds.
Prehistoric migrations: DNA study unravels the settlement history of the New World Arctic
A new DNA study unravels the settlement history of the New World Arctic. We know people have lived in the New World Arctic for about 5,000 years. Archaeological evidence clearly shows that a variety of cultures survived the harsh climate in Alaska, Canada and Greenland for thousands of years. Despite this, there are several unanswered questions about these people.
Mystery solved: 'Sailing stones' of Death Valley seen in action for the first time
Racetrack Playa is home to an enduring Death Valley mystery. Littered across the surface of this dry lake, also called a "playa," are hundreds of rocks -- some weighing as much as 320 kilograms (700 pounds) -- that seem to have been dragged across the ground, leaving synchronized trails that can stretch for hundreds of meters.
Small molecule acts as on-off switch for nature's antibiotic factory: Tells Streptomyces to either veg out or get busy
Biochemists have identified the developmental on-off switch for Streptomyces, a group of soil microbes that produce more than two-thirds of the world's naturally derived antibiotic medicines. Their hope now would be to see whether it is possible to manipulate this switch to make nature's antibiotic factory more efficient.
Marine protected areas inadequate for protecting fish and ocean ecology, study finds
A new study reports that an expansion of marine protected areas is needed to protect fish species that perform key ecological functions. According to investigators, previous efforts at protecting fish have focused on saving the largest numbers of species, often at the expense of those species that provide key and difficult-to-replace ecological functions.
New solutions needed to recycle fracking water, experts say
Scientists have produced a detailed analysis of water produced by hydraulic fracturing of three gas reservoirs and suggested environmentally friendly remedies are needed to treat and reuse it.
Protected areas proven to protect biodiversity
Protected areas conserve biodiversity, experts say, and more action is needed to ensure safeguards are in place to protect these areas. "Our work has now shown that protected areas have significant biodiversity benefits. In general, plant and animal populations are larger and more species are found inside rather than outside protected areas. In other words, protected areas are doing their job," they report.