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  • Science Visualized

    New mapping shows just how much fishing impacts the world’s seas

    Fishing has left a hefty footprint on Earth. Oceans cover more than two-thirds of the planet’s surface, and industrial fishing occurred across 55 percent of that ocean area in 2016, researchers report in the Feb. 23 Science. In comparison, only 34 percent of Earth’s land area is used for agriculture or grazing.

    Previous efforts to quantify global fishing have relied on a hodgepodge of...

    02/22/2018 - 15:40 Earth, Science & Society, Animals
  • News in Brief

    Strong winds send migrating seal pups on lengthier trips

    PORTLAND, Ore. — Native American fishermen in Alaska have long said that seal pups go with the wind rather than struggle against it. Now, a new study confirms that wisdom. Migrating northern fur seal pups travel hundreds of kilometers farther in blustery years than in milder years, researchers reported February 14 at the American Geophysical Union’s Ocean Sciences meeting. Those epic journeys...

    02/15/2018 - 16:32 Animals, Earth, Climate
  • News in Brief

    Ancient ozone holes may have sterilized forests 252 million years ago

    Volcano-fueled holes in Earth’s ozone layer 252 million years ago may have repeatedly sterilized large swaths of forest, setting the stage for the world’s largest mass extinction event. Such holes would have allowed ultraviolet-B radiation to blast the planet. Even radiation levels below those predicted for the end of the Permian period damage trees’ abilities to make seeds, researchers report...

    02/12/2018 - 07:00 Plants, Earth, Ecosystems
  • News

    Gassy farm soils are a shockingly large source of these air pollutants

    California’s crops are creating some noxious air.

    The Golden State is at the vanguard in the United States in reducing auto emissions of nitrogen oxide gases, which help produce toxic smog and acid rain. But the NOx pollution problem isn’t limited to auto exhaust. California’s vast agricultural lands — particularly soils heavily treated with nitrogen fertilizers — are now responsible for...

    01/31/2018 - 14:13 Earth, Pollution, Agriculture
  • News

    Life may have been possible in Earth’s earliest, most hellish eon

    Maybe Earth’s early years weren’t so hellish after all.

    Asteroid strikes repeatedly bombarded the planet during its first eon, but the heat released by those hits wasn’t as sterilizing as once thought, new research suggests. Simulations indicate that after the first few hundred million years of bombardment, the heat from the impacts had dissipated enough that 10 to 75 percent of the top...

    01/26/2018 - 07:00 Earth, Evolution
  • News

    Overlooked air pollution may be fueling more powerful storms

    Though they be but little, they are fierce.

    Airborne particles smaller than 50 nanometers across can intensify storms, particularly over relatively pristine regions such as the Amazon rainforest or the oceans, new research suggests. In a simulation, a plume of these tiny particles increased a storm’s intensity by as much as 50 percent.

    Called ultrafine aerosols, the particles are...

    01/25/2018 - 14:00 Earth, Climate
  • News

    Robots map largest underwater volcanic eruption in 100 years

    View the video

    On July 31, 2012, Maggie de Grauw looked out the window of her flight back to New Zealand after a holiday in Samoa and glimpsed a mysterious mass floating below. That mass turned out to be a raft of lightweight pumice rock, the product of an erupting underwater volcano called Havre. The 2012 eruption turned out to be the largest of its kind in the last 100 years. And now,...

    01/25/2018 - 07:00 Earth, Oceans
  • News in Brief

    Volume of fracking fluid pumped underground tied to Canada quakes

    Fracking wells should not go to 11. Instead, turning down the volume — that is, of water pumped underground to help retrieve oil and gas — may reduce the number of earthquakes related to hydraulic fracturing.

    The amount of water pumped into fracking wells is the No. 1 factor related to earthquake occurrence at Fox Creek, a large oil and gas production site in central Canada, researchers...

    01/18/2018 - 14:16 Earth
  • Science Ticker

    NASA is headed to Earth’s outermost edge

    NASA is going for the gold. Its GOLD mission — short for Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk mission — is slated for launch January 25, the agency announced January 4. GOLD will study the zone where Earth’s atmosphere meets outer space. Its goal is to better understand how both solar and terrestrial storms affect the ionosphere, an upper atmosphere region crucial for radio...

    01/04/2018 - 18:03 Planetary Science, Earth
  • News

    A sinking, melting ancient tectonic plate may fuel Yellowstone’s supervolcano

    The driving force behind Yellowstone’s long and explosive volcanic history may not be as deep as once thought. A new study suggests that instead of a plume of hot mantle that extends down to Earth’s core, the real culprit is a subducting tectonic plate that began sinking beneath North America hundreds of millions of years ago.

    Computer simulations show that movement of broken-up remnants...

    01/02/2018 - 07:00 Earth