Earth news stories

Earth’s oceans are warming 13% faster than thought, and accelerating
18th March 2017 | theguardian.com | Earth

New research has convincingly quantified how much the Earth has warmed over the past 56 years. Human activities utilize fossil fuels for many beneficial purposes but have an undesirable side effect of adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere at ever-increasing rates. That increase – of over 40%, with most since 1980 – traps heat in the Earth’s system, warming the entire planet.

Sponge can soak up and release spilled oil hundreds of times
18th March 2017 | newscientist.com | Earth

A new material can absorb up to 90 times its own weight in spilled oil and then be squeezed out like a sponge and reused, raising hopes for easier clean-up of oil spill sites.

This contrasts with most commercial products for soaking up oil, called “sorbents”. These are generally only good for a single use, acting like a paper towel used to mop up a kitchen mess and then tossed away. The discarded sorbents and oil are then normally incinerated.

Study Finds Massive Rogue Waves Aren’t as Rare as Previously Thought
18th March 2017 rsmas.miami.edu | Earth

University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science scientist Mark Donelan and his Norwegian Meteorological Institute colleague captured new information about extreme waves, as one of the steepest ever recorded passed by the North Sea Ekofisk platforms in the early morning hours of Nov. 9 2007.

Hidden crystals offer clue to a geological riddle
18th March 2017 | theguardian.com | Earth

Oceanic crust lives fast and dies young, usually being dragged down a subduction zone after 250m years or so. By contrast, continental crust lives to a ripe old age, with some of the oldest continental crust on Earth – dating to 4bn years – found in Canada and Greenland.

But geologists have long been puzzled as to why there isn’t more continental crust bobbing around. Now new research indicates that some of it might be hidden underneath ocean-island volcanoes.

Malta’s Azure Window collapses into the sea
18th March 2017 | bbc.com | Earth

Malta’s famous Azure Window rock arch has collapsed into the sea after heavy storms.

The popular limestone arch on Gozo island was featured on the first episode of the HBO series Game of Thrones and in several films.

It’s Time to Take the Gaia Hypothesis Seriously
18th March 2017 nautil.us | Earth

Can a planet be alive? Lynn Margulis, a giant of late 20th-century biology, who had an incandescent intellect that veered toward the unorthodox, thought so. She and chemist James Lovelock together theorized that life must be a planet-altering phenomenon and the distinction between the “living” and “nonliving” parts of Earth is not as clear-cut as we think.

UN experts denounce ‘myth’ pesticides are necessary to feed the world
17th March 2017 | theguardian.com | Earth

The idea that pesticides are essential to feed a fast-growing global population is a myth, according to UN food and pollution experts.

A new report, being presented to the UN human rights council on Wednesday, is severely critical of the global corporations that manufacture pesticides, accusing them of the “systematic denial of harms”, “aggressive, unethical marketing tactics” and heavy lobbying of governments which has “obstructed reforms and paralysed global pesticide restrictions”.

Farmers Fight Environmental Regulations
17th March 2017 | npr.org | Earth

The way environmentalist Craig Cox sees it, streams and rivers across much of the country are suffering from the side effects of growing our food. Yet the people responsible for that pollution, America’s farmers, are fighting any hint of regulation to prevent it.

Diet and global climate change
17th March 2017 | sciencedaily.com | Earth

Eating healthier food could reduce greenhouse gas emissions, suggests a new study. As it turns out, some relatively small diet tweaks could add up to significant inroads in addressing climate change.

New materials could turn water into the fuel of the future
14th March 2017 phys.org | Earth, Tech

Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have—in just two years—nearly doubled the number of materials known to have potential for use in solar fuels.

Radioactive Boars in Fukushima Thwart Residents’ Plans to Return Home
14th March 2017 | nytimes.com | Animal Life, Earth

They descend on towns and villages, plundering crops and rampaging through homes. They occasionally attack humans. But perhaps most dangerous of all, the marauders carry with them highly radioactive material.

Hundreds of toxic wild boars have been roaming across northern Japan, where the meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear plant six years ago forced thousands of residents to desert their homes, pets and livestock. Some animals, like cattle, were left to rot in their pens.

Norway says half of new cars now electric or hybrid
14th March 2017 phys.org | Earth, Tech

Norway, which already boasts the world’s highest number of electric cars per capita, said Monday that electric or hybrid cars represented half of new registrations in the country so far this year.

Discovery of widespread platinum may help solve Clovis people mystery
13th March 2017 phys.org | Earth

No one knows for certain why the Clovis people and iconic beasts—mastodon, mammoth and saber-toothed tiger – living some 12,800 years ago suddenly disappeared. However, a discovery of widespread platinum at archaeological sites across the United States by three University of South Carolina archaeologists has provided an important clue in solving this enduring mystery.

The cold exterminated all of them
13th March 2017 | eurekalert.org | Ancient, Earth

Through age determinations that are using the radioactive decay of uranium, scientists have discovered that one of the greatest mass extinctions was due to an ice age and not to a warming of Earth temperature

Arctic circle could become completely free of sea ice even if global warming limited to two degrees Celsius
13th March 2017 | independent.co.uk | Earth

The Arctic Ocean could become free of sea ice for the first time in 100,000 years even if action is taken to keep global warming to within two degrees Celsius, scientists have warned.

The UK’s CO2 Emissions Have Hit a 100-Year Low
13th March 2017 futurism.com | Earth

/UK carbon dioxide emission levels are at their lowest since the 1920s, down 36 percent from 1990, according to a report from the non-profit Carbon Brief.

The achievement is attributed to the UK’s multi-pronged approach, which includes shifting away from coal, expanding renewable energy, and taxing coal carbon.

Trees’ ability to store carbon in doubt after groundbreaking Australian study
13th March 2017 phys.org | Earth

The ability of trees to offset carbon emissions has been questioned after a Western Sydney University study found common Australian trees are unable to store as much carbon as previously thought.

Published in the Nature Climate Change journal, the research found that Australia’s iconic Eucalyptus forests are likely to need additional soil nutrients in order to grow and take advantage of extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

News stories covering the environment, plant life, and the Earth itself.