Earth news stories
The Earth’s magnetic field — which deflects harmful space radiation from the surface — has been weakening, losing about 10 percent of its strength over the last two centuries, and the decay may have been accelerating in recent years.
That weakening led to speculation that the magnetic field may be on the cusp of disappearing during a reversal, when the planet’s north and south poles flip, which could have consequences for civilization and life. But geoscientists have little knowledge of what has been occurring with the magnetic field during recent millenniums.
Alt: Astonishing geomagnetic spike hit the ancient kingdom of Judah
It’s not every day that scientists can study a volcano up close, but researchers investigating the feasibility of volcano-powered electricity successfully drilled into the core of one in Iceland.
Beneath the waves in the southwest Pacific Ocean lies a mostly hidden realm — dubbed Zealandia — that deserves to be called a continent, geologists say.
Alt: Zealandia – pieces finally falling together for continent we didn’t know we had
Psychogeography – the idea that places can soak up stories and legends – is the subject of a new book
Not far from where I live there’s a landscape that’s soaked in apocalyptic imagery. It’s a place that has soaked up history and stories, legends and folklore, tales that sit and ferment in the unforgiving stone, long outlasting those frail humans who first forged them. It has what we might call psychogeography, an entwining of people and place, where humans influence the land and the land, in turn, makes its indelible mark on generations of people.
An MIT spinoff company in India is proposing a novel solution to air pollution problems in Asia — turning vehicle exhaust into ink.
It involves attaching a device, called a Kaalink, to the business end of a standard automobile exhaust pipe.
The world’s oceans are drowning in human rubbish. Each year more than 300 million tons of plastic are produced globally, and 10 per cent will end up in the sea. It is estimated that there is now a 1:2 ratio of plastic to plankton and, left unchecked, plastic will outweigh fish by 2050.
Supermarkets are being urged to create a plastic-free aisle in every store to prevent tons of waste packaging ending up in the world’s oceans.
Around 300 million tons of plastic are produced globally each year, yet just 12 per cent is recyclable, and much of it is washed into the seas where it is toxic to wildlife.
It was there at the birth of our planet 4.5 billion years ago. Now we know how magma from that formative period has survived to the present day, occasionally making it to the surface. And the tale it tells should help us better understand Earth’s formation.
When you mine uranium from the ground, you get leftover radium and radioactive rock, soil, and even the water. When you power a nuclear reactor, the spent fuel rods are still highly radioactive and dangerous. In the United States alone, there are hundreds of different sites which are heavily contaminated, over thousands of acres.
Scientists don’t know much about the mysterious, powerful electric discharges that sometimes occur in the upper levels of the atmosphere in conjunction with thunderstorms. The first photograph of the phenomenon—which can occur as high as about 90km above the surface of the Earth and are known variously as sprites, pixies, elves, or jets—was only taken from Earth in 1989.
Danger zones in the air where radiation levels surge could pose an unrecognised health hazard. Airliners may have to avoid these in future, just as they do with volcanic ash clouds, to minimise any risk to travellers and crew.
We have long known that high-altitude flight exposes us to cosmic rays.
A leading green energy scientist who uses bacteria to turn greenhouse gases into usable chemicals is calling for more investment from industry and government subsidies to scale up this newest of technologies.
A drone that can pollinate flowers may one day work side by side with bees to improve crop yields.
About three-quarters of global crop species, from apples to almonds, rely on pollination by bees and other insects. But pesticides, land clearing and climate change have caused declines in many of these creatures, creating problems for farmers.
Alt: Japan Has Created Black Mirror-Inspired Bee Drones
Engineers have developed a scalable manufactured metamaterial — an engineered material with extraordinary properties not found in nature — to act as a kind of air conditioning system for structures. It has the ability to cool objects even under direct sunlight with zero energy and water consumption.
Extremely high radiation levels have been recorded inside a damaged reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, almost six years after the plant suffered a triple meltdown.
The wind industry crossed an important threshold in the United States last year, exceeding the generating capacity of hydroelectric power for the first time, according to the main industry trade group, the American Wind Energy Association.
Related: Massive lake drained for hydropower leaves dry bed and no fish
The bacterial world is rife with unusual talents, among them a knack for producing electricity. In the wild, “electrogenic” bacteria generate current as part of their metabolism, and now researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), have found a way to confer that ability upon non-electrogenic bacteria. This technique could have applications for sustainable electricity generation and wastewater treatment