Airplanes knock rain from the sky, plus a quick-melting glacier and BPA's diabetes link in this week's news

Sky holes
Airplanes taking off and landing at airports may be affecting the very weather around them. When a plane flies through a cloud containing supercooled water, which is liquid despite being below water’s freezing point, the plane triggers the water to turn to ice crystals and fall out as snow or rain. Such supercooled clouds might exist around U.S. airports some 5 to 6 percent of the time, scientists led by Andrew Heymsfield of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., report in the July 1 Science. —Alexandra Witze

Glacier melt
Ocean currents are scouring Antarctica’s floating Pine Island Glacier from below, causing it to melt ever faster. American and British scientists measured the temperature and saltiness of water around the glacier and found that since 1994 the amount of meltwater coming off the ice has increased by 50 percent. Pine Island is the fastest-shrinking glacier in Antarctica. The team reports the findings online June 26 in Nature Geoscience.Alexandra Witze

Plastics ingredient linked to diabetes
Women exposed to relatively high amounts of phthalates, compounds used in plastics and as solvents, are substantially more likely to be diabetic, a study in Mexico finds. All participants had been healthy and serving as controls in a cancer trial. Although previous studies have linked phthalates with risk of obesity — itself a risk factor for diabetes — the newly identified association appears independent of obesity, the researchers report online June 21 in Environmental Research. The scientists compared urinary excretion of phthalate breakdown products and found the strongest link to DEHP, a chemical used in toys, food packaging and household products. —Janet Raloff

More Stories from Science News on Earth