Listening for rumbles of past hurricanes, plus more in this week's news
Volcanic lakes could be burping out more than one-third as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as full-fledged volcanoes. To understand the planet’s total carbon budget, researchers need to account for all natural sources of carbon dioxide. But until now, no one had looked at lakes within volcanic craters, which can contain high levels of dissolved gases. Scientists from Spain’s Institute of Technology and Renewable Energy and colleagues surveyed these lakes and report online February 3 in Geology that they emit some 117 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. —Alexandra Witze
Seismometers set up to detect earthquakes might also capture rumbles from distant hurricanes, providing a new way to study past storms, a new study suggests. Scientists from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., found seismic signals from 1992’s Hurricane Andrew, a category-5 storm that walloped Florida, in records from a seismic monitoring station in Harvard, Mass. Because researchers don’t have complete data on how strong and frequent Atlantic hurricanes were before satellites started observing in the 1960s, using historical seismic records could help identify earlier hurricanes, the team writes in the February issue of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America. Such data could help scientists better understand whether hurricanes are becoming more frequent and/or stronger as sea-surface temperatures rise. —Alexandra Witze
Living close to heavily traveled roads raises the risk of developing asthma and allergies in children. Teenagers who live within 100 meters of the main thoroughfare in a suburb of Lima, Peru, were twice as likely to have asthma symptoms as kids living more than 384 meters from the road, an international team led by researchers at Johns Hopkins University report online January 18 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. And the closer children lived to the busy street, the higher was their risk of having allergies, the researchers found. —Tina Hesman Saey
How old is the Grand Canyon?
Brian Wernicke of Caltech believes the Grand Canyon to be older than the prevailing estimate of 5 or 6 million years — much older. In a paper published online January 26 in the Geological Society of America Bulletin, he argues that it started forming 70 million to 80 million years ago. His controversial evidence: the thermal histories of its rocks, as well as recently discovered zircon minerals suggesting that a river was in the right place at the right time to do the carving. —Devin Powell