Earth news stories

Microbial fuel cell converts methane to electricity
19th May 2017 | | Animal Life, Earth

Transporting methane from gas wellheads to market provides multiple opportunities for this greenhouse gas to leak into the atmosphere. Now, an international team of researchers has taken the first step in converting methane directly to electricity using bacteria, in a way that could be done near the drilling sites.

Future of farming? Driverless tractors and drones attempt to grow crops without humans setting foot on the land in a world first
16th May 2017 | | Earth, Tech

A team of agricultural engineers are attempting a world-first of growing and harvesting a field of cereal crop without a human setting foot on the land.

Researchers have pioneered an autonomous tractor which can be steered by a farmer from a control room to carry out the drilling, seeding and spraying of the land.

Elon Musk: Tesla’s Solar Roofs Will Be Cheaper Than Regular Roofs & Have “Infinity Warranty”
15th May 2017 | Earth, Tech

Ultimately, this absurd warranty lends authority to Musk’s previous claims that the solar roofs would be cheaper than traditional roofs, which is notable because cost efficiency is one of the primary hurdles when it comes to renewable energy.

Renewable hydrogen could fuel Australia’s next export boom after CSIRO breakthrough
15th May 2017 | | Earth, Tech

Australia’s next big export industry could be its sunlight and wind, as game-changing technology makes it easier to transport and deliver their energy as hydrogen.

Oversized landforms discovered beneath the Antarctic ice sheet
15th May 2017 | | Earth

Former ice sheets occupying Scandinavia and North America left numerous landforms on today’s surface that witness of their hydrological system underneath them. However, most landforms have, so far, never been observed under contemporary ice sheets — not least because they are relatively small and buried under kilometer thick ice.

Climate instability over the past 720,000 years
15th May 2017 | | Ancient, Earth

A research group formed by 64 researchers from the National Institute of Polar Research, the University of Tokyo, and other organizations analyzed atmospheric temperatures and dust for the past 720,000 years using an ice core obtained at Dome Fuji in Antarctica. Results indicate that when intermediate temperatures occurred within a glacial period, the climate was highly unstable and fluctuated.

A New Idea on How Earth Became a Giant Snowball
14th May 2017 | | Ancient, Earth

Eons ago Earth experienced a wild transformation: it turned into a giant snowball. These massive glaciation events, where ice encased the planet from pole-to-pole, are fittingly named “snowball Earth.” There were at least two occurrences: one around 717 million and another some 645 million years ago.

Although geologists have good evidence Earth experienced these snowball events, they still cannot figure out how they happened.

Jurassic drop in ocean oxygen lasted a million years
14th May 2017 | | Ancient, Earth

Dramatic drops in oceanic oxygen, which cause mass extinctions of sea life, come to a natural end – but it takes about a million years.

Alt: Oceans are at the ‘edge’ of losing all oxygen: Event could lead to mass sea life extinction

Carbon uptake in Tibetan Plateau soil may offset melting permafrost carbon release
14th May 2017 | Earth

An international team of researchers has found that carbon uptake in the Tibetan Plateau may actually offset the carbon that is released as permafrost melts.

How thirsty roots go in search of water
14th May 2017 | Earth

Scientists from the University of Nottingham, England and Tohoku University, Japan have helped to solve a mystery that has fascinated scientists since Charles Darwin – how plant roots sense water and change direction to find it.

Study finds Amazon River carbon dioxide emissions nearly balance terrestrial uptake
14th May 2017 | | Earth

Forests have always been considered huge carbon stores, helping to absorb greenhouse gas emissions, but new research in Brazil has found that rivers in the Amazon emit far more carbon dioxide (CO2) than previously estimated, suggesting that the Amazon Basin is closer to net carbon neutral.

‘Lost’ forests found covering an area two-thirds the size of Australia
14th May 2017 | Earth

A new global analysis of the distribution of forests and woodlands has “found” 467 million hectares of previously unreported forest – an area equivalent to 60% of the size of Australia.

Australia Incinerates ‘Irreplaceable’ Plant Specimens After Paperwork Error
14th May 2017 | | Earth

Australian biosecurity officers have destroyed historic and irreplaceable plant specimens that date back to the mid-1800s due to a paperwork error, according to news reports.

Larger swaths of tropical forest being lost to commercial agriculture
14th May 2017 | Earth

Larger patches of tropical forest are being lost worldwide as governments and corporations clear more land to make way for industrial-scale agriculture, a Duke University study shows.

Ancient minerals fill in lost chapter of Earth’s history
13th May 2017 | Ancient, Earth

Scientists from the Australian National University in Canberra studying ancient minerals have filled in some gaps in our picture of Earth in the Hadean eon, 4.4. billion years ago.

Increased cancer rate in US linked to bad environment
12th May 2017 | | Earth, Humans

Improving the worst environments in the US could prevent 39 in every 100,000 cancer deaths.

That’s according to the first study to address the impact of cumulative exposure to environmental hazards on cancer incidence in the US, which found strong links between poor environmental quality and increased rates of cancer.

Two Fungal Species Cooperate to Synthesize an Antibiotic
10th May 2017 | | Animal Life, Earth

Microbiologists often study microbes in isolation. In the scientific vernacular, this is called “pure culture.” While this is necessary to understand how individual microbes work, the trouble with this approach is that microbes do not live by themselves in the natural environment. Instead, they live in communities with multiple other species, cooperating and competing in order to survive.

Alt: Fungi From a Toxic Mine Pit Have Teamed Up to Produce a New Type of Antibiotic
Related: How a mushroom gets its glow

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