Earth news stories

Siberia’s ‘doorway to the Underworld’ Is Getting So Big It’s Uncovering Ancient Forests
2nd March 2017 | | Earth

It’s no secret that Siberia’s permafrost has been on thin ice lately. Conditions are varying so much that huge holes are appearing out of nowhere, and, in some places, tundra is quite literally bubbling underneath people’s feet.

Alt: In Siberia there is a huge crater and it is getting bigger

Fracking fluid is leaking more often than we thought
2nd March 2017 | | Earth

Most studies on hydraulic fracture, or fracking, focus on underground leaks. This study focused exclusively on leaks at the surface, which can harm wildlife—most notably birds and marine creatures—as well as impact drinking water sources.

How a Pacific Island Changed From Diesel to 100% Solar Power
2nd March 2017 | Earth

In November, Ta’u saw the completion of a new solar-powered microgrid, which shifted the entire island’s energy generation from 100 percent diesel fuel to 100 percent solar.

Related: The Price of Solar Has Dropped 58% in the Last 5 Years
Related: Wind turbines with flexible blades found to be 35% more efficient. They also work over a wider range of wind conditions than standard turbines new study finds

Newly identified continent Zealandia faces a battle for recognition
2nd March 2017 | | Earth

Lurking beneath New Zealand is a long-hidden continent called Zealandia, geologists say. But since nobody is in charge of officially designating a new continent, individual scientists will ultimately have to judge for themselves.

Earth probably began with a solid shell
2nd March 2017 | Earth

Today’s Earth is a dynamic planet with an outer layer composed of giant plates that grind together, sliding past or dipping beneath one another, giving rise to earthquakes and volcanoes. Others separate at undersea mountain ridges, where molten rock spreads out from the centers of major ocean basins.

Plastic from tyres ‘major source’ of ocean pollution
1st March 2017 | | Earth

Particles of debris from car tyres are ending up in the ocean as “plastic soup”, conservationists warn.

Microplastics from tyres and textiles are a bigger source of marine pollution than the breakdown of larger plastic waste in some areas, says the IUCN.

Scientists to repeat 19th-century ship’s crossing of polar ice cap
1st March 2017 | | Earth

In 1893 the Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen embarked on a mission of extraordinary boldness and ingenuity. He planned to become the first person to reach the north pole by allowing his wooden vessel, the Fram, to be engulfed by sea ice and pulled across the polar cap on an ice current.

Microchipped bumblebees show that worker bees act a lot like humans
1st March 2017 | | Animal Life, Earth

Bumblebees fitted with microchip backpacks have offered researchers a unique glimpse into the hidden world of colonies. As it turns out, when it comes to dividing up the workload, bees behave a lot like human beings.

Related: Bee decline threatens US crop production
Related: Bumblebee Buzz Literally Makes Flowers Explode With Pollen

China sees 50% drop in severe weather since 1960
28th February 2017 | | Earth

The frequency of hail storms, thunderstorms, and high wind events has decreased by nearly 50 percent on average throughout China since 1960.

The findings, published in Scientific Reports, are based on one of the most comprehensive studies on trends in local severe weather patterns to date.

Every 200 years California suffers a storm of biblical proportions — this year’s rains are just a precursor
28th February 2017 | | Earth

A series of storms have inundated California over the past few weeks, and the latest deluge is currently swelling rivers and reservoirs that are already spilling over. Vast swathes of California continue to be at risk for flooding as the storm runoff makes its way through river systems, the National Weather Service warns.

Related: A Forgotten Group Of Grains Might Help Indian Farmers – And Improve Diets, Too

Disappearing Seagrass Protects Against Pathogens, Even Climate Change, Scientists Find
27th February 2017 | | Earth

Every continent save Antarctica is ringed by vast stretches of seagrass, underwater prairies that together cover an area roughly equal to California.

Seagrass meadows, among the most endangered ecosystems on Earth, play an outsize role in the health of the oceans. They shelter important fish species, filter pollutants from seawater, and lock up huge amounts of atmosphere-warming carbon.

Carbon uptake by Amazon forests matches region’s emissions
26th February 2017 | | Earth

Carbon emissions across all nine Amazon nations have been fully matched by carbon absorption by mature Amazon forests since the 1980s, new research shows.

Study lead author Professor Oliver Phillips, from the University of Leeds, said: “Since 1980 roughly 430 million tonnes of carbon has been absorbed by pristine Amazon rainforest each year, which is almost four times the UK emissions for 2016.

Dream of energy-collecting windows is one step closer to reality
26th February 2017 | Earth, Tech

Researchers at the University of Minnesota and University of Milano-Bicocca are bringing the dream of windows that can efficiently collect solar energy one step closer to reality thanks to high-tech silicon nanoparticles.

Light-driven reaction converts carbon dioxide into fuel
26th February 2017 | Earth, Tech

Duke University researchers have developed tiny nanoparticles that help convert carbon dioxide into methane using only ultraviolet light as an energy source.

Having found a catalyst that can do this important chemistry using ultraviolet light, the team now hopes to develop a version that would run on natural sunlight, a potential boon to alternative energy.

We’re One Step Closer to Pulling Nuclear Fuel Straight Out of the Ocean
26th February 2017 | | Earth, Tech

Pulling uranium out of seawater could be a cost-effective way to source nuclear fuel, scientists have found, and the technique could pave the way for coastal countries to switch to nuclear power.

US ‘nuclear sniffer’ plane deployed in Europe amid mysterious spike in radiation
26th February 2017 | | Earth

A ‘nuclear sniffer’ plane has been sent to monitor radioactivity levels in Europe following the detection of mysterious spikes of radiation across the continent.

Alt: No One Can Figure Out What’s Behind a Mysterious Radiation Spike Across Europe
Related: Unexplained Nuclear Activity Detected in the Arctic

Tipping point: revealing the cities where exercise does more harm than good
26th February 2017 | | Earth, Humans

Who says exercise is always good for you? Cycling to work in certain highly polluted cities could be more dangerous to your health than not doing it at all, according to researchers.

In cities such as Allahabad in India, or Zabol in Iran, the long-term damage from inhaling fine particulates could outweigh the usual health gains of cycling after just 30 minutes.

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